Christmas Food & Drink: Supermarket sweep

There's too much to do at this time of year to start trawling the shops for Christmas wines. So we've got the wine suppliers to do it for you
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The Independent Culture
Last Year we published a Christmas list based on the premise that most people want to buy their Christmas wine from one supplier, rather than dashing about choosing different bottles from three, four or five places. There's just too much else to do at this time of year, I reckoned.

Judging by the mail that came in, I got the impression that the idea struck a chord. So here it is again, in slightly modified form. Once again the underlying aims were convenience and the household budget. Not "What do I feel like drinking?" but "What can I afford to drink, and where can I buy it easily?"

With these assumptions in mind, I asked wine-buyers at some of the major multiples to assemble a set of lists for "shopping by numbers". The requirements: three or four bottles to drink with the traditional Christmas meal of a starter, turkey or goose, and Christmas pudding. The price variables: flexible, but as a rule of thumb I wanted one at pounds 20 or less, one between pounds 20 and pounds 30, and one - dubbed the Fantasy list - for those able to spend more than pounds 30.

Here are the results. I'll let the lists speak for themselves, apart from noting that some lists cost less than the maximum. The cheap Asda list costs just pounds 12, Safeway and Sainsbury's middle-price lists pounds 22, Oddbins' pounds 20 list a cool pounds 16. These are truly un-frightening prices. Of the wines I've tasted (a majority), there wasn't a stinker in the lot.

One final note: buy early to avoid disappointment. A few wines had disappeared from the shelves by the time some readers did their shopping last year. Remember, the early bird may get the wine ...

Next Week: the independent suppliers draw up their lists

THE MULTIPLES RECOMMEND ...

ASDA

The cheaper list here is so cheap that there's a lot of scope for trading up.

pounds 20 list

Asda Cava, pounds 4.99

Asda Argentinian Chardonnay, pounds 3.99

Asda Moscatel de Valencia, pounds 2.99

pounds 30 list

Asda Vintage Champagne 1990, pounds 18.49

Domaine Pont Pinot Noir 1996, AC Bourgogne, pounds 5.99

Stanton & Killeen Liqueur Muscat, pounds 5.49/37.5cl

WAITROSE

If you skip either the white or the red in the pounds 20 list, you can substitute the Seaview fizz (a fantastically good wine) from the pounds 30 list.

pounds 20 list

Waitrose Cava Brut, pounds 5.25

Tatchilla Growers Chenin/Semillon/ Sauvignon, pounds 4.99

Stonebridge Zinfandel, pounds 4.99

Las Lomas Moscatel de Valencia, pounds 3.65

pounds 30 list

Seaview Brut Pinot/Chardonnay 1994, pounds 7.99

Macon Solutre 1996 Avigue, pounds 6.75

Gigondas 1995, Domaine Sainte Lucie, pounds 6.95

Asti Martini, pounds 5.99

Fantasy list

Quartet NV, pounds 14.95

Acacia Chardonnay 1995, pounds 12.95

Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 1995, pounds 17.50

Royal Tokaji Company Szt Tamas 1991 5 Puttonyos, pounds 34.50/50cl

TESCO

This pounds 35 list is the result of a misunderstanding, but Tesco customers know they have access to a very good range.

pounds 35 list

Charles Lafitte Champagne 1985, pounds 17.99

Chateau Giscours 1993, pounds 13.99

Tesco Mulled Wine, pounds 2.99

SAFEWAY

The Fantasy list here is especially distinguished, but the others have nary a dud between them.

pounds 20 list

Chardonnay del Salento, Vigneti Caramia 1996, pounds 5.99

Cosme Palacio y Hermanos Rioja, 1995, pounds 5.99

Pudding Wine, Auslese, pounds 3.99

pounds 25 list

Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla Sherry, pounds 6.99

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon, Agrelo Vineyard, 1994, pounds 8.99

Penfolds Magill Tawny, pounds 5.99/37.5cl

Fantasy list

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 1996, pounds 6.59

Chateau Marquis d'Alesme-Becker, 3eme cru Margaux, 1995, pounds 12.49

Warre's Quinta da Cavadinha 1986, single-quinta Port, pounds 19.99

ODDBINS

pounds 20 list

Segura Viudas Reserva, Cava, pounds 5.99

Jurassique sur Sol Bourgogne Blanc 1996, Jean Marc Brocard, pounds 4.99

Uno Fuera Cabernet Sauvignon

1994, pounds 4.99

pounds 30 list

Lindauer Special Reserve, pounds 8.99

Danie de Wet Bon Special Reserve Chardonnay 1997, pounds 5.99

Veramonte Merlot 1996, pounds 6.99

D'Arenberg Noble Riesling 1995, pounds 7.99/37.5cl

Fantasy list

Henri Harlin Champagne Brut, pounds 12.49

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 1997, pounds 7.99

Valentin Bianchi Elsa's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 1993, pounds 8.99

Quinta do Crasto Port 1991, pounds 9.49

SAINSBURY

I would happily drink any of the red wines from these three lists with a Christmas turkey.

pounds 20 list

Sainsbury's Classic Selection Australian Chardonnay, pounds 5.99

Sainsbury's Christmas Claret, pounds 4.99

Sainsbury's Christmas Pudding Wine, pounds 3.49/37.5cl

pounds 30 list

Sainsbury's Extra Dry Champagne NV, pounds 10.95 till 31 December

Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1995, pounds 6.45

Mick Morris Liqueur Muscat, pounds 4.99/37.5cl

Fantasy list

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Champagne 1989, pounds 31.99

Chateau La Vieille Cure 1990, Fronsac, pounds 10.95

Chateau de Cerons 1990, Sauternes, pounds 9.95/37.5cl

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