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 

Christmas drinks to share with family and friends

Christmas drinks 2016 Lyme Bay mulled wine

I write about wine and other drinks in a handful of regional UK newspapers; I sometimes share my columns here on One Foot in the Grapes.  Here’s some Christmas drinks to pour when friends or family visit spreading seasonal love. And expecting a drink.

Christmas drinks:  A trio to mull over

Lyme Bay Winery’s Mulled Wine (10% abv £8.29, This award-winning mulled wine is made in small batches in Lyme Bay’s East Devon winery. It is a vibrant pink with lovely aromas of ripe fruit, dusted with clove and sweet spices. It is delicious, soft and moreish. So much so I also “tasted” it cold.

Crabbie’s Mulled Ginger Wine (12% abv, £6.99 or three for £5.49, Oh it’s a ginger wine true enough! The nose is all ginger then – wait a minute – in sneaks sweet feminine citrus before aromas of dried spices take over. A surefire hit for ginger lovers everywhere.

Taste the Difference Mulled Wine (11% abv, £6, Sainsbury) I sensed the red wine aromas before the spices; then sweet berries, flecks of orange peel, cloves and vanilla tapped me on my nose and said Hey!! We are the mulled bit!! And sure enough they were right.

Christmas drinks: A trio of spirits

The Pogues Irish Whiskey (40% abv, £27.95, Christmas isn’t Christmas without hearing the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York at every turn. The band has an official whiskey you can tipple as you sing along. The nose has malt, vanilla, spice and nuts; then to taste more vanilla and spice, wrapped in a surprising softness – with lots of whiskey bite!

Kraken Black Spiced Rum (40% abv, £19.99, Aldi)  This Caribbean rum,  named after a mythical sea monster, is distilled from sweet molasses, aged for up to two years, and then blended with 11 spices including cinnamon, ginger and cloves. It has  aromas of toffee, Christmas pudding and chocolate;  take a taste and by jiminy the rum tingles to your toes.

Cranes Liqueur (20% abv,  £15 for 35cl, This new liqueur is made from cranberries, blood orange juice and orange rind. A tart cranberry aroma is the first to pop up its head, followed by a sweet thrill of orange and citrus. To taste, there’s a cushion creamy mix of fruit, soft, plump and warming. Pour in a glass and top with prosecco.

Christmas drinks: A trio of reds

Extra Special Douro 2014 (13.5% abv, £5.48, Asda)  This Douro – a blend of four native Portuguese grapes – is a whopping explosion of warmth and complexity, full of blackberries and prunes. If you imagine the fruity richness of port, you’re not far off the richness of this red, as they’re from the same region.

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2011(13.5% abv, £9.99, the Co-op) I love this rioja and if anything is guaranteed to warm up your guests as they come in from the chill, this will. This wine is ruby red, has toffee, spice and coconut on the nose and delivers a warming spice and fruit velvet hug in the mouth.

La Flor Malbec Pulenta Estate (14.5% abv, £9.95, Perfect for cold winter nights is the jammy, fruity style of a good malbec. This wine is packed with black cherry and plum fruit flavours, with hints of caramel, chocolate and wood smoke. If you don’t want to share with visitors enjoy on your own with a steak.

First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals 

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