Some wines and other drinks for Christmas from some of the supermarkets and other wine retailers.
I tried lots of the wine from Aldi at their summer press show and was very impressed by all of them, especially for the price, and they all make great easy drinking. Go and buy a selection, crack them all open, taste and then go back and stock up on the ones you like best.
Gavi – £5.49 – lovely and refreshing, fruity and lemon. Weighty enough to cut through creamy sauces. Serve with leftover turkey in a creamy sauce.
Costieres de Nimes £4.79 – Crammed with ripe black cherries this was perfect with roast lamb for a Sunday lunch.
Cremant Du Jura 2011 £7.29 – I’d buy this at double the price. Surprisingly full bodied, without that aggressive fizz and acidity you often get from a cheaper fizz. Lovely and well rounded. Paired well with salty snacks. This is the party wine to go for. I took the bottle round to some friends and they could not believe the price.
The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Premier Cru Chablis 2012, £14.99 – this has a typical Chablis nose, but we felt was very light on the palate.
The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir 2012, £7.99 – packed with berries and cherries and velvety smooth with hint of vanilla which Chilean Pinot is a massive bargain and definitely is worth stocking up on. One for the Christmas table where it will stand up well and be very drinkable with the turkey and all the trimmings. Astonishingly good value.
Taste The Difference Languedoc White 2013, £8 – An intense white full of peach and citrius flavours. We thought this would be perfect a day or so after Christmas to accompany the eponymous turkey buffet as it would stand up well to strong spices.
Taste The Difference Albarino 2013, £8 – perfect with seafood, with notes of peach, apricot and lime. Lovely and refreshing, perfect for jaded palates a few days after Christmas.
Taste The Difference Priorat 2011, £11 – Very rich, but rounded and oozing with blackberries and cocoa. we’d pair with red meats, or Stilton, if you are not a port drinker, this Christmas.
JS Blanc de Noirs 75cl £20 – amazing value for £20, rich and creamy with non of that acidity you can get from the cheaper champagnes. Perfect with seafood, it has been my to go champagne for a few years now.
Taste The Difference Prosecco £10 – This is the perfect party wine, by picking the grapes with a little less sugar it is only 10.5% alcohol without compromising on taste. Light, fruity and rounded. Stands up well to food, we enjoyed it for Sunday lunch with a roast chicken, a budget fizz to accompany your Christmas turkey.
The Grape Club
Founded by first cousins from a wine producing family the Grape Club offers a case of 4 bottles of wine once a month for £45. What makes it different is that you will not find the wines in the supermarket and each wine comes with a detailed tasting card written in layman’s terms telling you some more about the wine and winery, and detailed tasting and food paring notes. We really liked the notes – did you know that the addition of Grenache to Syrah will lower both the tannin and acidity? I did taste the Guigal Cotes du Rhone, which I have had before, with new taste buds and was delighted to learn something new about wine. I’d love a subscription please! Perfect for those with jaded palates, bored of supermarket wine aisles, and who want something a bit different on a Saturday evening.
I am not quite sure why we neglect half bottle of wine so much. A half bottle will mature faster than a regular bottle, they are perfect if you want to drink less, want to match wine to each course of a meal, or if you like different wines from your partner. Generally the half bottles available in the supermarkets are not so great, so step in Half Wine.com who have a huge range of premium half bottles of wine. The organic and vegan Bousquet Argentine Malbec (£7.30) was sublime, packed with blackberry and blackcurrant and velvet smooth. At 14% it packs a punch, but with the smaller bottle size this is not a problem. Mixed cases from £89. Well worth a look.
Sip & Learn
Like many people every year I add going on a wine course to my goals, and of course I never do. I love the idea behind Sip & Learn – a mail order wine course – that you can do from the comfort of your home. Each month you receive two bottles of wine to compare, along with a comprehensive 18 page workbook, this month comparing aromatic and non aromatic white. For £30 a month (plus £5 P&P ) it is an easy way to learn more about wine – the two organic bottles I receive have a retail of £20.50 and £9.50, so you are getting great wine. I am very tempted to subscribe. Sip & Learn. Twitter @sipandlearnuk
Harveys & Pongrácz
Sherry has had a revival, and I predict will become increasingly popular in 2015. I highly recommend this lovely bottle of 12 year old signature from Harveys, a stunning nutty bronze colour, tasting of hazel nuts and dried fruit, sweet but not too sweet it is made of a mix of 80% Palomino, 20% Pedro Ximénez. It is very versatile, enjoy as an aperitif, with tapas or puddings. 50cl RRP £11.99 from Tesco . Just lovely.
Like a book, you should never judge a wine by its bottle, but the shape of this Méthode Cap Classique Desiderius Pongrácz 2008 makes the bottle hard to resist. Made in honour of Desiderius Pongrácz, who fled the Hungarian uprising and settled on the Cape revising viticulture. Made from a mix of chardonnay and pinot noir this wine is fizzy and refreshing, with notes of almonds. £21.99 from SA Wines Online.
Grand Marnier is a classic orange liqueur, currently available in the classic bottle with iconic red ribbon or in a limited edition chic “Parisian meets nautical” red, white and blue stripped bottle. I drink it with ice, add to poached oranges and other puddings. The limited edition bottle if from Harvey Nichols with an RRP of £26.05 for a 70cl bottle.
Toussaint is a coffee liqueur with a rum base, far more interesting and with more depth than other coffee liqueurs on the market. Made with ground Arabica coffee you get a wonderful hit of espresso. Really rather lovely and with half the sugar of other liqueurs it is not too sweet. Perfect for a late night boost, as it is, on the rocks or in all manner of puddings. available in Selfridges’ four stores nationwide, Spirited Wines, Gerry’s in Soho and in bars and restaurants throughout the UK and internationally. RRP £19.50 for 50cl.
For me you simply cannot go wrong with a Speyside single malt. I may venture around other parts of Scotland, but my whisky heart remains firmly close to the Spey. I find the whiskys gentler and comforting. Great for non whisky drinkers or as an introduction to the world of single malts. Cardhu was founded and managed by women, and the creator of Cardhu Gold Reserve is also a woman. Lovely, lovely rich dram with floral notes, citrus, baked apple and tastes of hints of toffee. Available as a gift set with the whisky, fig noire candle and dark chocolate for £55 from Alexander and James, or supermarkets £42 a bottle (currently on offer at Tesco for £30).
Snow Leopard Vodka made in small batches in Poland from spelt and is distilled 6 times and filtered over charcoal for extra purity. The spelt adds a lovely creaminess and nutty flavour to the drink. 15% of profits are donated to the conservation of snow leopards, there are less than 5,000 left in the wild. A perfect gift for the non vodka drinker, animal lover or environmentalist, the vodka won a gold medal at this year’s International Spirits challenge. £36 for a 70cl bottle from Waitrose, Harvey Nichols and Ocado.
Many thanks to all the brands for samples. All opinions are my own.