The 50 Best wines for Christmas
Looking for bargain bubbly, full-bodied reds, aromatic whites or the stickiest dessert wine? Terry Kirby has all you need to kickstart the festive season
Friday 07 December 2012
sainsburys.co.uk, £7.32 (until 11 December)
Not as sweet or citric as some, this prosecco has lovely fine bubbles and a delicate peaches and cream flavour.
The first organic vintage from this reliable producer is the perfect Christmas morning tipple. Light, delicate and highly enlivening.
Stunning value. The quality of this apple-scented sparkler from Jura near the Franco-Swiss border would normally command twice the price.
marksandspencer.com, £21 (until 1 January)
Terrific pink sparkler specially made for M&S by Oudinot. Red berry fruit tastes make it ideal as an apertif, but it's also perfect with seafood canapés.
The best of English sparkling wine-making. A fresh, creamy, 100 per cent chardonnay wine. Think of spring hedgerows and a lightly toasted brioche.
A terrific alternative to conventional sparkling wines. Zingy and vibrant, full of exotic tropical fruit flavours. Great value too.
Traditional champagne varieties grown in the Chilterns. Surprisingly deep, rich toasty flavours, closer to vintage champers.
The extra sugar added to the chardonnay grapes delivers rich, complex fruit sweetness, counterbalanced by fine acidity.
majestic.co.uk, £47 (as part of a minimum mixed six-bottle purchase)
Supremely top-notch pink champagne from a great name in a lovely, elegant bottle.
Jenkyn Place is based on the north downs in Hampshire. This sublime rose has zesty raspberry and strawberry flavours, crisp acidity and yeasty aromas to remember.
majestic.co.uk, £8.99 (each if two bought as part of minimum six-bottle purchase)
Full-bodied and with classical tropical fruit and buttery tastes. A good match for roast poultry or lighter pork dishes.
Oak ageing delivers complex and surprisingly full herbal flavours with an austere finish. An excellent choice for a shellfish or smoked salmon starter.
Fabulously easy-drinking, flavourful, bone dry number from the Marche, chosen by the Society for its high-quality, low-price, bargain range.
Organically made in the Languedoc, this is a fuller flavoured, fruity, with a hint of spice white, but with a vibrant minerality underpinning the fruit. Great with poultry.
Stands out from the crowd with intense floral aromas, crisp flavours of apples, kiwi and gooseberry and a thrilling, palate-tingling finish.
Exceptionally good value French reisling. Gorgeous sherbet and floral aromas but dry, with lime and apple notes. Good with fine crustacea.
Full-bodied and richer than most: think honeysuckle, apricot and tropical fruit flavours with a zippy, citric edge.
A gorgeous very dry white from Slovenia, using grapes from hillsides by the Adriatic. Sea-breeze fresh tastes of lychees, lemons and pears.
majestic.co.uk, £6.49 (each for two, in a six-bottle purchase)
Tangy flavours of nuts and pears, with a touch of citrus. Ideal as an aperitif or with soft goats cheeses.
A one-off. From a small vineyard in Worcestershire using the hitherto unregarded kerner grape. Smoky, spicy, aromatic and almost viognier-like. Impressive.
majestic.co.uk, £9.99 (each for two bottles as part of a minimum six-bottle purchase)
Aromatic on the nose, light, refreshing and lemony on the palate, with herbs and honey.
Assertively fruity and fullsome for those accustomed to bone dry, flinty, Loire wines, closer in style to a New World sauvignon blanc.
Greek wines are getting their act together. Complex and interesting, this has distinct rose petal aromas followed by citric and lemongrass flavours.
Benchmark Chablis. Intense but elegantly restrained, fabulously clean and mineral, with a long, satisfying finish.
Intense aromas of peaches, apricots and melons, spicy and smoky flavours and crisp on the palate. Excellent with lightly spiced Asian foods.
A French-style blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Spicy and vegetal, red fruits and a touch of oak but decent acidity.
Spain's reliable grenache gets a New World makeover. Big, intense and very pure red and dark fruit flavours, underpinned with fairly restrained oak. Beware the 14.5 per cent abv.
Rioja, not the traditional tempranillo grape but the less well known graciano. Vibrant, cherries-and-chocolate tastes, also gets a touch of oak here. A good red for fish.
An absolute stunner from the Ardeche. Packed with seriously warming and powerful flavours of baked and dried fruits with touches of leather and chocolate.
Big, bold shiraz. Huge brambly flavours, violets and coffee on the nose and a big presence on the palate. Pair with big meaty casseroles or game. Decant hours before drinking.
Rich fruit and nut chocolate in a bottle, with a little mocha thrown in and touches of vanilla and toasty, oaky complexity.
A perfect festivewine. Medium bodied, succulent and drinkable enough for parties, and it wouldn't disgrace the dinner table.
Modern Portuguese wine at its best. Oak-aged, full-bodied, gorgeous black fruits like damsons, deeply satisfying and good with cheese.
Luscious, velvety textures overlaid with bitter chocolate, black coffee and ripe cherry flavours. Perfect for turkey.
This unregarded grape from Italy's Trentino region is worth getting to know: dark and richly delicious, with a fresh vibrancy. Very moreish.
A big buy, but worth it. Made only when the conditions are just right. Concentrated raisin-like flavours. Savour slowly.
Rustic, robust approachable, with brambly fruit flavours, a touch of spice and a smidgeon of herbs. A very satisfying, all-purpose bottle.
vintagemarque.com, £12.85 (minimum purchase six bottles)
Mellow, enticing wine with sweetish flavours of red fruits and hints of dark chocolate.
Impressive, rich, and power-packed, with dark fruits, seasonal spices and a long, lingering finish. Will keep.
This Languedoc is fantastic value: terrific dense fruits and a real sense of sun-baked southern French vineyards.
Strikes a balance between richer, younger ports and refined, tawnies. Mellow, warming, nutty and simply gorgeous with all desserts, fruit and hard cheeses.
For those who find pudding wines too 'sticky'. Lighter, floral and approachable, full of autumnal flavours of oranges, hay, honey and ripe sweet pears. Drink chilled.
Portugal's other dessert wine, made by the same company since 1881. Tastes of raisins and honey, smooth and fullsome. Ideal with mince pies and Christmas cake.
One of the world's great dessert wines, with the Puttonyos scale of 1-6 denoting sweetness. A luscious combination of honey, demerara sugar, toffee and hints of marmalade.
A great alternative to traditional tawny port, produced in similar fashion, but from New South Wales. A gorgeous mixture of treacle, toffee and dried fruit flavours.
Proper sherry: dark, nutty and clean on the finish. One of the few wines to be a match for strong chocolate puddings.
waitrose.com, £10.20 (until 2 January)
Great for those who enjoy a glass or two of Christmas port. Ripe, mature, berry flavours and the right amount of sweetness. Perfect for Stilton.
Before nero d'avola, sweet marsala was the wine most associated with Sicily. Aged for at least five years: sweet, dark, rich and sensual flavours.
majestic.co.uk, £4.99 (each for two if bought as part of minimum six-bottle purchase)
Properly luscious pudding 'sticky' but from Chile and at a fraction of the price.
Fresh, dry, palate-cleansing and a very different kind of sherry. In Spain it is drunk as an aperitif, with salted almonds or tapas.
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