It’s that time when it’s socially acceptable to drink every night and not feel you have to justify it… OK, for many of us, that’s all year round but now we can do it wearing a festive jumper and surrounded by more sparkly lights than the John Lewis Christmas department. In fact, from the beginning of advent until New Year’s Day, it’s perfectly fine to open a bottle around lunchtime. And luckily there are plenty of offers and new sips out there to tempt us.
At this time of year, I’m mainly looking for wines that are crowd pleasers for when friends and family come over. I’m also on the look out for Christmas dinner friendly wines that’ll go with a roast with all the trimmings. So here’s my first Christmas post. Let’s have some fizzy fun!
I love serving something a bit different when friends are over and what could be more unexpected than a Welsh pink fizz? Nobel wines, a new online shop based in Bath are stocking an intriguing blend of Chardonnay and Pinot noir from Ancre Hill. It has a whiff of caramelised sugar nose which is continued on the tongue with added an added savoury berry tang. Well rounded and robust with food, this Monmouthshire rosé would be great with nibbles on Christmas Day ahead of lunch. And it’s only 11.5% so you’re not going to get too sqiffy too quickly! It’s also vailable for £32.90 at www.novelwines.co.uk.
Another fabulous pink is Majestic Wine Warehouse’s L’Extra par Langlois Rosé Crémant de Loire. There’s a beautifully subtle yet tangy red current bite from this Bollinger owned Château which one of the Loire’s leading producers of sparkling wine. Very easy to drink, make sure you accompany with smoked salmon or juicy prawns to fully appreciate it’s moreishness. This fun little number is available from £9.99 in Majestic on a multi-bottle deal.
Other fizz’s worth serving include a rather low priced Champagne. OK, Asda’s Pierre Darcys Champers isn’t rich and complex like some more premium labels but as a fun accompaniment to nibbles, it’s fresh on the nose and sherberty on the palate. The wine’s tang and frothy bubbles are a lively start to any celebration and at £10, you can get some in for the hoards! And if you can’t get any (as cheaper Champagnes tend to sell out), their Extra Special Marques de Portola Cava 2014 is also a good bet. At £6, it’s fabulous – Neat or in a cocktail. Great if you want something to serve when you have the neighbours coming in. I’d much rather serve this than some of your more average Proseccos.
Sainsbury’s new addition to the Taste the Difference range is well worth buying in of Christmas. Their Crémant de Loire is made in the traditional method of Champagne, but is a great alternative to Champagne. It’s has a delicious rounded citrus hit with the refreshing tang of a lemony IPA. Might sound odd but it’s perfect for your daytime sipping. And at £9, it won’t break the bank.
Another one to watch is Tesco’s Finest Pignoleto, a lesser known Italian grape grown between Modena and Bologna. For those looking for a Prosecco alternative, this wine has a sweet start with a delicate fizz and but less pear-like than many overrated Proseccos. Pear peach and apple dominate in the mouth as this wine develops into a more savoury flavour with a long finish. It’s only £8 and is a great accompaniment to welcome your guests to.
And yes, I know that I’m always Prosecco bashing but that’s because I don’t think the quality is as high as it used to be. I don’t know if producers are making too much of the stuff to meet demand from the British market and letting standards slip or whether my tastes have changed, but I find it hard to find one I like. Marks & Spencer must have heard my rage as they’ve pushed the boat out and have created a Prosecco with more to it than most. It has the initial inviting fragrance and feel you’d expect from this easy drinking Italian fizz but the wine’s peachy flavour develops into something a bit more serious and weighty than most Proseccos. It’s well equipped to stand up to savoury pre lunch canapés and this single vineyard fizz is certainly worth the £15 price tag.
And finally, if you’d like something to knock your socks off for the ultimate celebration, Waitrose have pulled out the stops with their 2005 Brut Special Réserve Vintage Champagne. Savoury and mouthwateringly delicious, this intensely biscuity fizz is really special. Maybe one to savour when there aren’t too many people around to share it with!… Selfish I know!… But you’ve got to hold something back for yourself! Or if you get more than one in, save the second for New Year’s Eve and see 2017 in with a bang! It’s hard to believe that this Champagne is currently a steal at £19.99, down from £24.99 for now. So enjoy!