Contrary to popular belief (or what your parents might have told you…) you’re never too old for an advent calendar. But this year, swerve the chocolate and sweeties, because wine advent calendars offer the perfect boozy build-up to the big day.
Sure, you could just buy a bottle of your favourite wine, but where’s the fun in that? Wine advent calendars offer the chance to discover new favourites (without committing to a full bottle) and, more importantly, inject a little childhood fun into those dark, December days. Let’s be honest, we all need it.
The best advent calendars offer a variety of wines behind each and every door, so you can sip a different tipple each evening. Often, they’ll include red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, but you can often opt for all-red, all-white, or strictly sparkling if you prefer.
How we tested
But how exactly do you know which to buy when their contents are, as per tradition, kept secret? Well, we did the hard work for you, peeking behind the doors of this year’s calendars to find those worth buying. When judging, we considered the quality of the wines included, originality of the offering and overall value, with additional points scored for presentation and delivery experience.
From stellar mixed selections to crackers filled with fizz, these are the best wine advent calendars for a very merry Christmas…
The best wine advent calendars 2021:
- Best overall – Laithwaites wine advent calendar: £79.99, Laithwaites.co.uk
- Best sparkling wine advent calendar: £139.99, Gettingpersonal.co.uk
- Best value advent calendar – Aldi wine advent calendar: £59.99, Aldi.co.uk
- Best advent calendar for variety – Virgin Wine advent calendar: £89.99, Virginwines.co.uk
- Best advent calendar for learning more about wine – Sociovino seasonal subscription: £150, Sociovino.com
Laithwaites wine advent calendar
We’ll admit it, we were initially drawn to the festive look of Laithwaite’s advent calendar, which is a snow-dusted Georgian house with each lit window revealing a miniature bottle of red or white wine (we opted for a mixture, though you can select all red or all white if you’d prefer). Considering advent calendars are on display in your home throughout December, you certainly want it to look the part.
But, more importantly, how did the wine add up? Well, it was unlikely that Laithwaites – one of the UK’s leading wine merchants – would put its name to anything sub-standard, and their advent calendar is certainly no exception. These wines were all killer (and no filler), with new favourites found in a ripe yet creamy oak-aged rioja and an interesting Australian durif… in fact, after tasting, we bought cases of both, which should tell you all you need to know. We can think of no better gift – whether you’re a wine buff or beginner. They’re available to pre-order now for £10 now, and you just have to pay £59.99 on despatch.
Getting Personal fizz advent cracker
Best: Sparkling wine advent calendar
It was a close tie for our top spot this year, with this Fizz advent cracker scoring highly for its thoughtful packaging… I mean, who wouldn’t love a giant cracker filled with festive sparkle?
The price tag is slightly steeper than others we sampled, but the bottles inside are all premium quality, with top brands like Bottega, Ca’neri and Mionetti behind each door. Our favourite was the Bottega rose gold, which offered persistent bubbles, light vanilla spicing and mixed summer berries on the palate – the perfect antidote to a dark, December day.
Aldi wine advent calendar
Best: Value advent calendar
Aldi’s bargain wine advent calendar causes round-the-block queues each year, as people try to get their hands on their bargain special buy. Having worked our way through all 25 doors – in the name of hard work, of course – it’s not hard to see why.
The quality of the wines is undeniably impressive for the price tag, with the sparkling blanc de blancs proving to be a new favourite. It’s a great way to discover the supermarket’s range of red, white and sparkling wines on a smaller scale, without committing to a full bottle, though it’s worth noting that the wines do repeat, which may disappoint customers hoping for a different bottle each day.
A slight bugbear was that the cardboard doors could have been scored better to allow a cleaner cut – by day 16, the calendar looked a little worse for wear. though it’s not a deal-breaker, after all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Despite that, we can see 2021’s calendar following the pattern of previous years with sell-out success.
This calendar is available to purchase in-store, and will be available to buy online from 1 November.
Virgin Wines advent calendar
Best: For variety
Virgin Wines’ offered the most variety of all the advent calendars sampled. There’s 25 different reds, whites, rosés and sparkling wines to sip and savour – though, like Laithwaites’ calendar (£69.99, Laithwaites.co.uk), you can opt for all-red or all-white if preferred.
A silky, fruit-forward grenache was a real standout, plus the addition of a full-size bottle of crisp and zesty prosecco (which, FYI, has won a coveted LWA Gold Medal) to enjoy come Christmas Day is a nice touch.
While there is clear attention to detail on the bottles themselves, with many bearing limited edition festive labels, the calendar itself lacks a little personality. Plus, the cardboard inserts could have been sturdier as on a few occasions, a bottle had dropped down from the wrong date. Needless to say, that could have been a result of shipment and delivery...or being a little too eager and excitable when opening the doors.
Sociovino seasonal subscription, £150 per box (quarterly)
Best: For learning more about wine
OK, so this isn’t technically an advent calendar in the traditional sense, but we really admire what Sociovino is trying to achieve with its break-the-mould subscription model. The team – made up of former sommeliers, who have worked for the likes of The River Café, Spring and The Fat Duck – look to the seasons to select 12 wines, which are made for wintry weather, from bold Italian reds to richly textured Georgian whites. You might not open a door per se, but eking out 12 bottles of wine over the 24 days of advent may just be the next best thing.
If you’ve dabbled with wine subscriptions in the past and found they didn’t quite cut it, then let us explain why Sociovino differs from the rest. Not only do you receive the wines, but you also get hearty recipe cards which have been specifically developed by Sociovino’s roster of trained chefs to pair with the wines and an in-depth brochure complete with tasting notes and stories behind the producers.
At £150 for 12 bottles of excellent wine, Sociovino is the perfect opportunity to learn more about wine at a more affordable entry point to most subscriptions. Plus, if you find a new favourite, the brand will offer 10 per cent off their entire site (which currently includes 280+ bottles…and counting).
The verdict: Wine advent calendars
Now we’re not suggesting that ml for ml, wine advent calendars offer value beyond buying a bottle outright, but what we are saying is that it is a lot more fun to find a miniature behind each door throughout December. Plus, they make the perfect gift to send cheer (or should that be cheers?) to friends and family from afar.
Laithwaites impressed not only with its carefully curated selection of world wines, but with their equally thoughtful packaging, too. Fizz fans should flock to Getting Personal for their sparkling cracker.
But if you’re looking for full size bottles to enjoy with your partner or flatmates, then Sociovino’s sommelier-selected subscription offers all the intrigue of an advent calendar… just try not to crack into the entire case in one sitting.
For the latest discounts on wine and other alcohol offers, try the links below:
Spoil the oenophile in your life with the best Christmas gifts for wine lovers, from tasting hampers to club memberships
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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