Here’s 16 Christmas gifts ideas for the drinks’ lover in your life (or for me)

Christmas gifts ideas 2017

Another year has flown and here I am with a handful of Christmas gifts ideas for drinks lovers. My choices are based on the simple scientific law that I’d want them myself. 

Christmas gifts: Books for drink lovers

I Love Champagne (RRP £12.99) is a fabulous guide by Davy Zyw subtitled “Fall in love with 50 of the world’s best champagnes” and it helps you do exactly that. There’s glossy sections on 50 champagne houses, food tips, history  and loads of other info too.  Fantastic.

I love The Wine Dine Dictionary (RRP £20) by Victoria Moore. The first section lists foods in an A-Z and offers brilliant wine pairings; then the role is reversed in part two, with the wines in an A-Z alongside suggested foods. It is a must-have for food and wine lovers. I’m very excited.

In Clean Cocktails (RRP £20) Beth Ritter Nydick and Tara Roscioli  share pages of colourful cocktails recipes, all with the emphasis on health. They use low-calorie spirits, fresh juices and natural sweeteners. Naughty but also good for you.

Doctor’s Orders (RRP £12.99, Hardie Grant)  by Chris Edwards and Dave Tregenza is another book full of cocktail ideas to restore, refresh and revive.  Edwards and Tregenza have created  drinks such as Thirst Aid with gin and herbs and An Apple a Day with Cognac and Calvados.

The title of the book Ginspiration (RRP £9.99, is a giveaway to what lies inside. There’s an A-Z of well-known gin brands, with lots of gin cocktail recipes and a guide to creating your own flavour-infused gin. A bit of gin DIY for you.

*Find these books on Amazon or good book stores.

Christmas gifts: Talking of gin

A couple of miniature sets to look out for. The Whitley Neill Small Batch Gin Selection (RRP £12.99, Amazon) includes 5cl of Whitley Neill Gin,  made with South African botanicals cape gooseberry and baobab and 5cl of Whitley Neill Quince Gin and Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin.

The City of London Distillery Gin Taster Selection Box (RRP £34.99, Amazon) has five 5cl tipples of premium small-batch artisan gins all handcrafted in the Square Mile’s first gin distillery for nearly 200 years.  It includes Christopher Wren Gin and City of London Old Tom Gin.

Or here’s a thing, dangle gin from your tree with a pack of Pickering’s Gin-filled Christmas baubles (£30 for 6,

Christmas gifts: Special treats

The One Fo(u)r Brut and Brut Rosé (£10 and £12 respectively, John Lewis) are festive, fizzy and fun; 20cl bottles bubble-packed with Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. Boozy Berries (£6.50, is a jar of oh-so-punchy raspberries left over from making Pinkster gin. Pop them in a pudding or dip them in chocolate. The Prosecco Gift Set (£45, is relaxation in a box and includes truffles from the Secret Truffletier, a bottle of prosecco and a Vineyard Candle.


Christmas gifts: FOR Serious wine people

In the Chapel Down Vine Lease Scheme (from £275) five vines can be leased from the Chapel Down Bacchus vineyard in Tenterden. People can follow the seasons by visiting their vines, enjoy an annual celebration lunch at the winery and take home a case of their own Tenterden Estate Bacchus wine complete with personalised wine labels. 

 The Coravin Mark 2 (£249, is a grown-up gadget. The technology allows you to pour the right amount of wine you want without removing the cork. This keeps the wine fresh in the bottle for a long time. I guess you’ll love someone lots to buy them this … but they’ll keep rewarding you with wine.


Christmas gifts: Final thoughts and a special offer

Premium Champagne Stopper Avina Christmas giftIf the one you love enjoys lots of fizz and likes to keep some opened in the fridge, then the Premium Champagne Stopper (£11.42) from Avina could be perfect. The simple stopper clicks in to an opened  bottle to keep the bubbles as fresh as the day they were opened. If you use this code AVINA15F you’ll get  15% off on the Avina website.
A lifetime membership of
The Wine Society (, £40) is a snip and there’s a £20 credit towards the first order.  A subscription with online Your Sommelier (from £36 a month) is a great shout. Each month three French wines arrive from vineyards and there’s tasting notes and regional guides. 

Enjoy shopping. Xx


Christmas red wine to suit everyone’s pockets!

christmas red wine Novare Valpolicella Ripasso

 It’s not long to go to Christmas Day and I’m getting excited now.
If you’re looking for a Christmas red wine, here’s some thoughts; starting with some bargains and building up to a knock-out buy.


Christmas red wine on offer this month

Western Australia Cabernet Sauvignon  (Morrisons, 14.5% abv, RRP £7, down to £6 until Jan 1st) It takes me a couple of sips to make my mind up on a cab sav –  but this award-winner dug a defiant heel in the ground and said You’ll Like Me!! The earthy aromas, together with plum fruits and vanilla, perk up the senses before rich flavours of deep fruits take over.
Christmas red wine factor: Drink while you thrash everyone at Monopoly

Taste the Difference Pic Saint Loup (Sainsbury, 13% abv, RRP £8, down to £7 from Dec 13) A very drinkable number with a woody aroma and a hint of liquorice. It’s a decent wine at a reasonable price, which might make it a good option when friends and family arrive bearing gifts.
Christmas red wine factor: It will match sprouts and pigs in blankets.

Rioja Ursa Maior Reserva 2011 (SPAR, 14% abv, RRP £10.49, reduced to £7.50 from Dec 8) This is a yum-some oaky red, rich and fruitful with the traditional complexity that you get from a rioja. There’s smokiness alongside vanilla-edged cherry fruits, flecks of coffee and is easy-drinking to boot.
Christmas red wine factor: Sip while you wrap your presents.

Vignerons des Mont d’Aubune Vacqueyras (Asda, 14% abv, RRP £10.48,  but £9 from Dec 7) Powerful grenache takes centre stage in this southern Rhone blend. This red isn’t backward in coming forward and once it’s had an airing, black fruits, coffee and earthy depths tumble out of the glass.
Christmas red wine factor: If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape try this

Christmas red wine – pay a little more

Novare Valpolicella Ripasso (The Co-op, 13.5% abv, £9.99)  Ripasso is made by taking skins and grapes left over from making amarone wine and re-fermenting  them in valpolicella – it’s born out of a waste-not want-not culture. Novare is exclusive to the Co-op and is fruity but bold, with vanilla, chocolate and liquorice.
Christmas red wine factor: Great with roast beef or a platter of cheese.

La Sogara Amarone (Aldi, 15% abv £11.99) A really great price for a powerful Italian red full of flavour and gusto made traditionally from dried grapes. The wine has notes of chocolate, mint, sour cherry, raspberry and red berries, all swirling and sumptuous on the senses. Christmas red wine factor: Strong cheese or luxury on its own.

Blind River Pinot Noir 2014 Marlborough (Majestic, 13.5% abv, £16.99 or £14.99 in a buy six deal)  I love a pinot noir next to my turkey, cranberry sauce and roasties. I went all gooey-eyed at my first sip of this New Zealand wine. It is soft, slinky, earthy, intense, with raspberries, liquorice and a dabble of spice. Forget any prezzies, I just want this.
Christmas red wine factor: If you don’t like this I’ll eat my Christmas  hat.

Warwick Estate Trilogy 2012 (14% abv RRP £23.99,, Now this is a bit special. There’s a distinct whiff of freshly-baked bread, with  plum  and bramble fruit flavours and a warming, spicy finish. This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, has produced a classy, complex wine, which would do Christmas lunch proud.
Christmas red wine factor: Worth pushing the festive boat out.  

I write about wine and other drinks in a handful of regional UK newspapers and I share my columns on One Foot in the Grapes. 
First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals December 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express