Christmas Sips 2020!

OK team! It’s been an odd year – And it’s going to be a ‘Different’ sort of Christmas this year! With this in mind I’m determined to make it as Christmassy `s ever in our house! So here are some wine and cocktail ideas for you to enjoy throughout the Christmas and new year celebrations.

Keep smiling, stay safe and drink to smile! Sending hugs, you lovely people!

Fizz

I’m a big believer in pink fizz during any season – especially at Christmas. All those prawns and shellfish deserve something really special. I recently did an article for The BBQ Mag on outdoor entertaining at Christmas. I made prawn and smoked salmon skewers with dill and lemon and matched it with Jenkyn Place Rosé Brut 2014from Hampshire. It’s a delicate salmon pink sparkler and is an elegant blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. On the nose there’s ripe raspberries and blackberries while on the palate the gentle bubbles reveal subdued cranberries forest fruit notes. The age gives added depth and elegance. Jenkyn Place Sparkling Rosé Brut 2014 is £35.00 per bottle and available at a number of independent retailers and online stockists (Hawkins Bros, Bin 21 Ltd, Christopher Piper Wines Ltd, Kingsgate Wines & Provisions, Magnum Fine Wines, Martinez Wines, Starmore Boss, The Leamington Wine Company and from Jenkynplace.com)

Another great British wine is Finest English Sparkling by Hush Heath available in Tesco. It’s handpicked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier grapes from one of my fave English wine producers, Hush Heath Estate in Kent. It has a fresh nose of English gardens and delicate bubbles that tickle the tongue. It’s deliciously crisp with a bright note of orchard fruit. Red apple flavours make your mouth waters before a mellow finish develops with lovely texture. This wine is available at Tesco at around £20.

If you’re looking for actual Champagne this year, one of my favourite of the supermarket offerings is Lidl’s Champagne Comte de Senneval Brut Millésime 2014. It has a buttery nose and is really inviting. There’s rich stone fruit character on the palate with a hint of bright lemon acidity in there too. A buttery finish completes the experience with a lovely balance of richness and acidity. This lovely sparkler is £19.99 at Lidl.

White Wine

The Waitrose & Partners  ’10 at £10’ offer may have ended but there are some fine drops that were in this list that will be perfect for Christmas and New Year celebrations. Espirit de Chablis Premier Cru 2018is delightful. Not as rich as some Chablis but a great non-food wine, you know, one to sip while preparing your nibbles! It’s lean and mineral with a fresh appley hints. It’s got great minerality and a fab steely finish. This Chablis is £17.99 at Waitrose & Partners.

But if you fancy a white Burgundy to go with your Christmas lunch as well as the subsequent turkey sarnies over the coming days, you cannot go wrong with Edouard Delaunay ‘Septembre’ Chardonnay 2018. It’s a great example of barrel-aged Chardonnay at a fab price. The nose reminds me of fresh, mouth-watering apricots in a pan with a little salted butter. The subtle oak really invites you in. It tastes rich and fruity with a grating of lemon zest to balance it out. It has body thanks to the oak, but there’s a mineral freshness which lifts it. Fresh, yet classy. Yes, it’s creamy in texture but there is a little white pepper heat that gives this wine depth. And I can’t believe the price! You can pick this up in Majestic Wine Warehouse for £14.99 a bottle or £10.99 on the mix six deal.

Another great sipping wine for me is Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc in France. TheCroix De Bezard Picpoul de Pinetfrom Tesco is beautiful. It has a fresh, ripe pear nose and it has a stone fruit aroma with a slight honeyed richness. It’s refreshing on the palate with a subtle salinity and there are also hints of honeydew melon here and a little pineapple. It’s surprisingly fruity with a Sichuan pepper finish. It’s currently £9 from Tesco.

But what about a wine to go with your turkey curry or any exciting concoctions that you might be making with  leftovers that contain a little heat? Well, one of the most exciting wines I‘ve tasted this year is Yealand’s Grüner Veltliner Reserve. Grüner’s homeland is Austria where there are some amazing examples but this one is  from the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, New Zealand. It has a ripe melon and pineapple chunk nose which hints at it’s fruity character. This wine has great texture and is laced with tropical fruit – pineapple and white peach are prominent first and then there’s a lean streak of galia melon. Exciting in the way it bursts with tropical fruit and a dash of sweetness, but there’s also a subtle elegance here and a flash of lime zest on the finish. It really would be perfect with spicy cooking over Christmas and New Year. It’s available from Waitrose at £9.99 (down from £12.99) and from various independent wine shops.

Red Wine

If you’d like a drop of red with the fire on, or with your Christmas lunch, one of my favourites at the moment is from Co-Op. It’s the Chateau Beau-Site Cru Bourgeois Saint-Estêphe 2014from France’s Medoc. This Cabernet Sauvignon has blackcurrant hints on the nose with an underlying aroma of dried fruit and forresty wood notes too. The hint of vanilla oak leads you in nicely to the tangy red cherries and cassis that you find on the palate. There are gentle tannins with savoury, woody undertones. It’s a wintery and luxurious with a lengthy creamy finish. This was a great vintage for the appellation and at £22, it’s a bargain for a wine as classy as this.

I’d kick myself if I didn’t let you know about this wine from South Africa. Kanonkop Pinotage 2017 is fromone of the best and most respected wine estates in South Africa.I’ve had a love / hate relationship with South African Pinotage for a while, but this wine shows us all why we should be drinking Pinotage and supporting wines of South Africa. On the nose there is hedgerow fruit, damsons and black pepper.On the palate there’s a wonderfully jammy burst of blackcurrant with a leather note and a bit of smoke. It is full on but in the most delightfully classy way. This wine is really comforting with a long lasting and peppery finish.It has a smooth texture with gentle tannins.It’s rich and smooth but with a gentle freshness. Just delicious – And it would be perfect with that roast beef you’ll be craving after all the turkey you’ve eaten!It’s available from £28.99 in Majestic Wine Warehouse and Waitrose & Partners.

Cocktails

Partridge in a Pear Tree

OK, I first put this cocktail on the website a few years ago, but I love it so much, I’m going to make sure I make one this year! I first came across this magnificent drink when I went for afternoon tea at the Intercontinental on Park Lane a few years ago. The tea was based on the 12 days of Christmas. Every sweet treat and sandwich was based one of the 12 aspects of the rhyme and the one that stuck in my mind was the cocktail. It was called ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’. I forget the exact alchemy of its flavour but knowing the ingredients, I have aimed to perfect it and I think I’ve got it right!

Now, I’m not keen on either whiskey or pears but it contains both which is why I am surprised that I like it at all. I’m not even convinced about diluting Champagne. I’m a strong believer of drinking it neat and savouring it’s beauty. That said, this delicious cocktail involves mixing Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or – a sweet whiskey matured in Bourbon casks and then extra matured in Sauternes barriques, along with Xanté – a blend of pears and Cognac . So, grab your favourite Champagne glass and give it a go. All you need is:

Equipment:Champagne Flutes 

Ingredients for one cocktail

½ teaspoon Nectar D’Or

1 teaspoon Xanté (Pear liquor)

Fill the glass up with a good Champagne of your choice (but save your expensive vintage stuff to imbibe neat!)

Method

Add the spirits to the glass first and then top up with Champagne. No need to stir. It really is that simple and yet it tastes so luxurious.

So, whether there’s a cake to bake, a turkey to brine, presents to wrap or if that cup of tea just isn’t hitting the spot, Pop that cork, mix and share with friends!

Christmas Clementine Cosmopolitan

This is a twist on one of my favourite cocktails: The Cosmopolitan, which reminds me of trips to New York. I think there’s a Sex & The City character in all of us (but that’s a different Zoom call!) And by making this, I believe we can celebrate our frustrated traveller, and imagine we’re spending Christmas in New York!

A standard Cosmo is a great drink, but the added magic of clementine juice takes it to the next level.

And here’s a tip: don’t worry about juicing clementines as M&S sell freshly squeezed clementine juice and it is divine – it’s also great in a Bucks Fizz. But do track it down – it’s oodles better than orange juice.

Equipment: Cocktail shaker / 2 x Champagne Coupes

Ingredients for two cocktails (in one shaker)

60ml Cointreau
120ml vodka
40ml cranberry juice drink
40ml clementine juice
The juice of two limes
A handful of ice
2 slices of clementine

Method
Put the ice into the shaker. Add all liquid into the shaker and shake for 20 seconds until the shaker is cold to touch.

Strain into martini glasses and garnish with a thin disc of clementine (it could be gently oven dried if you have time).

This can also be made with a clementine sugar rim (2 tablespoons of sugar and the zest of a clementine).

Melting Snowman (Or lady)

You can have fun with cocktails without drinking! And this one is a cross between a mocktail and a Sundae! It’s great if you fancy a break from alcohol and for kids too. And the great thing is – You can really vary the ingredients to suit different palates.

Equipment: A lowball glass / An ice cream scoop or spoon

Ingredients for one cocktail

2 Scoops of lemon sorbet 
200mls Lemonade
A slice of clementine / orange peel (cut to look like a carrot)
2 chocolate chips / currants

(You could use vanilla ice cream and crème soda if you’d like a sweeter version)

Method
Scoop the sorbet / ice cream into the glass (a smaller scoop on top). Add the clementine / orange nose and choc chip / currant eyes. If you have a hat, fab! Pour over the lemonade / crème soda and watch your snowman (or lady) melt. Spoon or drink and enjoy!

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