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, www.henningswine.co.uk, www.winedirect.co.uk) 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