Christmas fizz which isn’t prosecco or champagne!

glass of bubbles, christmas fizz

Prosecco and Champagne can take centre stage at the office Christmas party, family gathering or girlie night  – but here’s some other Christmas fizz ideas which will fit the bill.

Provetto Spumante Bianco Brut (10.5% abv £4.99, Bargain Booze) This wine achieves the wow factor when used as a cocktail mixer. It’s a great way to add some festive sparkle to party drinks such as bellinis and mimosa-style creations. It’s not over-complicated but for a fiver it can be a fizz that gets the party started.
Christmas fizz score: 2/5

SPAR Cava Rosado (11.5% abv, £6) When you’re in a rush and you need a pink fizz you won’t go far wrong if you pick up this in your travels. It’s a pretty little thing, a strawberry pink, with soft aromas of fresh strawberries and just an edge of complexity which a cava brings to the party. In fact, why not take it to a party. For £1 more, buy SPAR’s Perlezza Rosé, which is a blush of pink bubbles to please any hostess.
Christmas fizz score: 3/5

The Society’s Cava Brut Reserva (12% abv, £8.25, One of my friends said this wine was her “new fave”. You can’t beat cava. I love it. This crisp appley number is made from the traditional cava grapes parellada, macabeo and xarel-lo with a touch of chardonnay. It is rounded, squidgy and scrumptious – and at the same time remains elegant, in balance and with long-lasting flavours.
Christmas fizz score: 5/5

Codorniu Gran Crémant Vintage Brut Cava (11.5% abv £9.99 the Co-op) This wine has been developed exclusively for the Co-op. The label shouts class – then it has a complex, soft, fruity character which just can’t be mirrored by a simple prosecco. A fleck of toast nudges past pears and stone fruit on the nose, and to taste apples, lemons and stone fruit are soft but vibrant.
Christmas fizz score: 4/5

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Langlois Brut Crémant (12.5% abv, £13.50, A wine with mmmmm factor.  This bottle of bubbly heaven is better than many of the champagnes on the market and costs a lot less, so you could even be cheeky and treat yourself to two bottles. It has a lovely creamy taste that will pop your cork. The label is owned by Champagne Bollinger.
Christmas fizz score: 5/5

The Chalk Valley English Sparkling Wine (12% abv, £14.99, and selected Aldi stores) This is an exclusive blend developed between Aldi’s wine team and Denbies’  winemakers. It has good citrus and apple aromas with a hint of spring flowers and a crumble of brioche; to taste it is tongue-tingling dry with a hint of creamy texture and apple flavours balance well with a shiver of acidity.
Christmas fizz score: 3/5

Montes Sparkling Angel (12% abv, £15.50 This is the first sparkling wine made by Viña Montes and they’ve used the traditional techniques which create champagne. It is a blend of pinot noir (70 per cent) and chardonnay it spends 36 months on the lees to create complexity. It’s a wine of two halves – the nose has the dry intensity of walnuts and toast; then to taste it is much lighter, with fresh citrus and subtle stone fruits.
Christmas fizz score:3/5

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 

December 9th: Paddock Shiraz and Ken Dodd

The Paddock Shiraz

Wine Advent Calendar December 9th: The Paddock Shiraz 2015

I second-guessed when I started this 24-day countdown to Christmas that I’d end up missing some days. I have a memory like a sieve.

So this post isn’t so much a wine recommendation for December 9th – but more the story of what I did on December 9th.

When my pal Denise asked me to go the annual Liverpool Press Club lunch I thought why not. I live in Liverpool; I’ve worked in the Press for many years; I’ve been to several clubs in my time. I haven’t combined the three before so now’s as good a time as any.

Mind you, said Denise, we’d be the young ones. With a combined age of XYZ between us (put it this way, I was buying records when Jimmy Osmond was a child) I thought she was kidding. Errm no.

I also thought Denise was exaggerating when she said a) ice in the bar would be a luxury item b) the wine list wouldn’t be up to much and c)  jeans would be a posh look.

The venue was The Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. The Adelphi is like a very old relative you have a soft spot for, despite them turning a bit odd in their declining years. Saying that, you don’t have to shout at the Adelphi to make yourself heard  or squeeze it in the back seat of the car for a day trip to the seaside.

I’d arrived at the hotel in a flurry. The morning hadn’t gone as planned and after rushing across town I found my pal hovering by the receptionist pointing at the wine list.  “I’ve ordered champagne,” she said, “the rest of the list doesn’t look much good at all. Order some wine. Order it now. They’ll put your name on it.”

Yup. Fully-trained journos order a full bottle of wine each, which is then plonked (apt word) on the table with their name on it. This is presumably to prevent middle-of-the-meal minesweeping by niftier speed-drinking journos.

I looked at the wine list. My Body Language said “trust me, I know about wine”. I plumped for a £16.95 bottle, smugly declaring it was made by a Hollywood superstar.

Next up. The bar. There were a couple of barmen and one huge bucket of ice. Granted, the barmen moved slower than icebergs (quicker than some guests truth be told)  but it was going well so far.

Anyone for a large glass of wine? Errm no, there’s only two large wine glasses and they’re both out there being used, said the barman.

So we hit the gin and then the gin hit me. Three drinks in,  I was wearing two Christmas hats. By the time I was halfway through my turkey dinner I also wearing a paper clip with my name attached to it in case I got lost. Meantime my pal was creating models of Donald Trump’s head using sprouts and a dollop of carrot. As you do.

Donald Trump sprout
Donald Trump sprout

At one point I was a bit hot but luckily the waitress poured a full glass of water down my back.

Did I mention Ken Dodd?  The original speaker couldn’t come so Ken stood in at short notice. The Adelphi is just over 100 years’ old and veteran comic Ken isn’t far behind. He’s still going, every credit to him, though he’s  a bit raggedy round the edges, just like the Adelphi. I glanced up at one point and saw Doddy trying not to nod off during the speeches. Bit like me through his verrrrrrry long jokes.

Ken Dodd press lunch
Ken stood in with 48 hours’ notice – and spoke for what seemed  the same time

Now then, back to the wine.  I took a sip of The Paddock Shiraz 2015 and thought mmmmmm … you’ve messed up haven’t you.

In my arrival flurry,  I’d scanned the wine list so quickly I  mixed up Sam Neill’s excellent Two Paddocks wine with another Paddock brand, singular.  I’ve never been  good with numbers.

Sam Neill’s wine is New Zealand pinot noir; but the wine with my name on it was shiraz and from Australia. Sam’s wine hadn’t appeared on the wine list at all. It was a #doh moment.

Not the only #doh of that day. But what an excellent day.

The Paddock Shiraz 2015

What is it: It’s a red wine 

Where’s it from: South Eastern Australia

The grapes: Shiraz  – though the link I’ve found says it’s a blend  of shiraz (86%) petit verdot 9% and viognier (5%)

What of the taste? The label describes it as easy drinking  – well I thought it hard going. I found it harsh, bitter and not very fruity. But saying that my taste buds had just tussled with three gin and tonics and grappled with a plate of Brussels pate which was drizzled with what I can only describe as pink gravy.

I wasn’t in the best physical state to critique wine.

So in the interest of fairness I’ve bobbed over to Vivino and here’s some scores on the doors made, I would hope, by wine lovers unhindered by pink gravy taste bud attacks.

Small print: The Paddock Shiraz 2015 is 14% abv (yup, I noticed THAT bit on the day) and I found it  online here for £6.25.

Here’s some TripAdvisor comments about the Adelphi.