Christmas wines Part 3: Six red wines which can be light, fruity, spicy or savoury

christmas red wines 2018 Photo by Toni Cuenca on Unsplash

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know I’ve shared some white wine ideas for Christmas.  In this post I’m starting down the road of Christmas red wines.

It could be a long road to travel, but I’m doing it in two journeys.  In this blog, I’ve roadtested light, fruity, savoury, complex wines and next time  I’ll share  richer reds.

What does that mean for your Christmas dinner? I much prefer lighter fruity reds to sip with my festive plate of flavours which can have so many mix and match combinations. A robust red can be overpowering – but you know, if you love it, then you jolly well drink it. Some of you listen to Enya, but I don’t complain.


My first three Christmas red wines

I love a fruity beaujolais, which you may be thinking is a summer wine. Well absolutely not! It is light and fruity that is true, but because of that it can deliver staying power to your palate throughout a meal and doesn’t have huge fall-outs with the complex flavours on your plate.

If you didn’t know, there are three styles of Beaujolais you can buy (well four if you include Beaujolais nouveau, but let’s not go there). There’s the basic Beaujolais AC, then the next appellation is Beaujolais Villages and finally, within the Beaujolais Villages are the Beaujolais Crus, a handful of villages with their own distinctive tastes.

For Christmas, Lidl is selling the crus wine Françoise Dubessy Fleurie (£7.99). Fleurie is one of the most popular styles which is fresh and juicy with raspberries and a shake of pepper. By contrast, a much more complex crus wine is Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent 2016 (RRP  £19.60, Sainsbury) which is dark and spicy, savoury and complex. It is very tasty and elegant. A lighter, softer beaujolais is Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais-Villages 2016 (RRP £11, Tesco and Ocado). It is bursting with red fruits. This wine is happy to be poured and share its balanced loveliness with a plate of festive goodness.


three more Christmas red wines

Ursa Maior TempranilloUrsa Maior Rioja Tempranillo (£6.50, Spar) is a very accessible Rioja in the new Regional Range from Spar which delivers bright red fruits on the nose and soft tannins and the same red fruits in the mouth. It is unoaked and retains a juicy freshness which I enjoyed.

Oh, and then I enjoyed it again.

A wine I loved testing for you guys (well, you know, someone has to do it) is  KWV The Mentors Petit Verdot 2016 (£14.99, slurp.co.uk). Petit verdot is a grape usually taking a back seat in a Bordeaux blend, but here the South African producers have pushed it centre stage. It has a flash in its soul of cherries,  black fruits, spice and pencil shavings. Trust me. Pencil shavings.

Mentors Petit Verdot
KWV The Mentors Petit Verdot

Finally, if a pinot noir is your preference (and it is mine!) Tesco Finest New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 (£8.50) is well worth the price. Good pinot noir usually retails well above this, but it’s no slouch by comparison. That wonderful earthiness is there in spades and it’s got enough about it to give the parsnips and sprouts a run for their money.  A pal said it reminded him of Sunderland Football Club. Goes down a little too easily.

Tesco Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir
Tesco Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir

Read more of my Christmas 2018 wine thoughts

Champagne Taste Test 2018: We rate 10 supermarket champagnes
Prosecco Taste Test 2018: We rate 10 supermarket proseccos

Christmas 2018 wines Part 1: Fresh and fruity whites
Christmas 2018 wines Part 2: Six chardonnay wines 
Christmas 2018 wines Part 4: Festive red wine to warm and hug you 


First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Christmas wines Part 2: Six chardonnay choices for your festive table

christmas wines white Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

In Part 1 of my Christmas wine posts for 2018 I was fresh and fruity. Now I have more depth and complexity. If you’re just catching up with me then … no …. I’m not describing the ups and downs of feminine emotions, but white wines for Christmas.

You might be thinking “what is this depth and complexity of which this woman speaks” – “and why is it interesting for my Christmas feasting?”.

Winemakers can call on a heap of different production methods to turn what could be a humble fruity white wine into something with a bit of interest. That can include aging or fermenting in oak, or stirring on the lees.

Chardonnay loves such treatment. Whatever winemakers choose to do, this grape always puts its hands on its pips and says “go on then, bring it on”.

All my Christmas choices in this post are chardonnay wines, more by coincidence than design, as I went on the look-out for wines which sit perfectly alongside food.


My first three chardonnay Christmas wines

I’ll start with Extra Special Barossa Chardonnay 2018 (Asda, £5.98) which is partially fermented in French oak. This is a great value white as there’s some complexity but not too much if you’re nervous about wines with statement. My notes said “apple, lemon, with a hint of baking spice”.

The Co-op has introduced several new wines this season and one is Vandenberg Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2018 (£10) which is a refreshing, not-too-heavy chardonnay from South Australia’s Adelaide Hills region. Aged in French oak, it boasts a creamy texture and you can taste the citrus and pear without your palate  being overpowered.

Tesco finest* Gisborne Chardonnay (£9) is nurtured in the Gisborne region on the North Island. Grapes are fermented in oak and the result is a wine which has lovely tropical fruit notes and a zesty finish alongside a nuttiness that intrigues.


My final three chardonnay Christmas wines

We’ll leap over to France for Macon Villages, Burgundy Chardonnay (£10, Marks and Spencer) which is a comforting hug of a white wine. A rich unoaked chardonnay, it is creamy and smooth with a sharp hit of apple and a whisper of peach and a long, delicious buttery aftertaste.

When I met Spar’s wine consultant Philippa Carr MW the other week, she told me her favourite wine in the retailer’s new range was Bourgogne Chardonnay (£9) and it is indeed rather tasty. It is unoaked and has a nice bite of apples and a good acidity.

We’ll stay in France for the classy Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse 2017 (RRP £20, Tesco, Morrisons, Nisa) where half of the grapes were partly fermented in vats and the other in oak barrels. This gives layers of freshness and fruit, but has a creamy, nutty mouthfeel which cushions those same delicious fruits. It is elegant and special.

All this talk is making me crave a glass of something with a mound of parsnips, sprouts, turkey and potato. Can’t wait.

Read more of my Christmas 2018 wine thoughts

Champagne Taste Test 2018: We rate 10 supermarket champagnes
Prosecco Taste Test 2018: We rate 10 supermarket proseccos

Christmas 2018 wines Part 1: Fresh and fruity whites
Christmas 2018 wines Part 3: Six light, fruity, savoury, spicy reds
Christmas 2018 wines Part 4: Festive red wine to warm and hug you 


First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express