Stock up while you can before the Christmas rush – and put a few bottles extra away to dispel any January gloom writes Christine Austin.
Preparation is the key to a good Christmas – and the ability to change plans at quick notice.
That is why it is best to lay in a good stock of wines, so that you can concentrate on important matters like food, family and friends.
Here is my selection of the best red and white wines to make your Christmas go well. There are wines for easy drinking, wines to enjoy around the table and a few to hide away until you have time to sip something special. Most merchants will revise their price lists in January, so stock up for January too. Not everything I have selected is on offer – some wines are worth their full price.
Here are my top 20 wines for Christmas.
White wines: £8 and under
Leaf Plucker Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Western Cape, South Africa, Aldi, £6.99: New vintage Sauvignon Blanc, fresh as a daisy and full of zesty lime and pineapple fruit. A terrific aperitif.
Falanghina Beneventano 2016, Sassi del Mare, Campania, Italy, Lidl, £6.99: A food-friendly wine with ripe crunchy apple fruit, a touch of yellow quince, citrus and an edge of herbs on the finish. It goes really well with a cold turkey salad.
Finest* McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills SR 2016, South Australia, 12.5%, Tesco, £8: This blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Marsanne and Roussanne grapes gives fresh-tasting lime and pink grapefruit flavours backed by peachy apricot notes.
Taste the Difference Dry Furmint 2016, Hungary, 12.5%, Sainsbury’s £10 down to £8 until January 1: Furmint from Hungary is a wine full of spiced apple and honeysuckle notes, with crisp, minerally-fresh acidity. Try it with roast pork or goose.
£8 to £12
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2016, Marche, Italy, Marks and Spencer, £8.50: This comes in the traditional curvy bottle of the region and has all the right herb-infused, ripe peach and juicy pear flavours. Pour this at a Christmas party and it will be a winner.
Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough, New Zealand, Majestic, £11.99 down to £8.99 on a mix six deal until January 2: I have loved this wine for years and now it has hit the right price point. Lean, fresh, gooseberry and pineapple fruit with a tangy finish.
Glenelly Glass Collection Unoaked Chardonnay 2016, South Africa, £12: From one of the best hillsides in the Cape, this is a bright, lemon-curd style of wine with delicate floral notes.
£12 to £20
Ailalá Treixadura 2016, Ribeiro, Spain, Booths, £13: Treixadura is the grape, grown in the hills of Ribeiro in Galicia. Surprisingly complex with notes of apricots, herbs and goes well with pork and turkey.
Wm. Morrison Chablis 1er Cru 2014, France, Morrisons, £15: Every Christmas table needs a good Chablis and this is it. With crisp, citrus fruit and a crunchy gravel path texture it will complement prawns, fish or even a turkey sandwich.
Kumeu River Chardonnay 2016, Auckland, New Zealand, Bon Coeur Fine Wine, £19: This small, family run estate makes sensational wines that really give white Burgundies a run for their money. Elegant, restrained, full of pure, mineral-backed fruit and a fresh finish.
Reds: £8 and under
Bordeaux 2015, Lidl, £4.29: If you have a houseful to cater for this Bordeaux Rouge from Lidl hits all the right notes. Juicy red fruits that can cope with party food.
Sous le Soleil du Midi Merlot 2016, Vin de France, Waitrose, £5.99: Great value drinking, with soft bramble fruit and just a hint of spice, the quality of this wine far exceeds its lowly Vin de France designation.
Te Rakau Hawke’s Bay Red, New Zealand, Aldi, £6.99: A Bordeaux blend of grapes with soft, juicy Merlot backed up by deeper cassis from Cabernet Sauvignon and a lift of fresh blackcurrants from Cabernet Franc. Terrific value.
Viñalba Malbec 2015, Patagonia, Argentina, Morrisons, down from £9.25 to £7 until January 2: Packed full of dark mulberry and damson fruit with a smooth, elegant style. Team this with beef, venison or a chunk of mature Cheddar.
£8 to £12
Domaine de Lavail Old Vine Carignan 2015, South of France, Marks and Spencer, £10: Full of ripe summer berry fruit, layered with spice and liquorice. Wonderful with a winter casserole.
Journey’s End Bluegum Merlot 2015, South Africa, Sainsbury’s, down from £13 to £11 until January 1: This ripe, plush, cassis and bramble-filled wine is just perfect with roast lamb.
£12 to £20
Irresistible Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015, Rhône, France, 13.5%, Co-op, down from £14.99 to £12.99 until January 2: This is so good. With spiced plums, pepper and savoury complexity, it will cope with every food that Christmas can throw at it. Buy more than you need.
Finest* Gigondas 2016, Rhône, France, Tesco, £14: This is a Grenache-dominated blend with 20% of Mourvèdre providing structure and deep, savoury aromas. Delicious now but it won’t come to any harm if you buy too much and keep it.
Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Margaret River, Western Australia, £15.75: These vineyards catch the ocean breeze that sweeps into the Margaret River region area. The result is Cabernet grapes with fresh acidity balancing deep, red fruit flavours and silky, structuring tannins.
Push the boat out
Beronia Gran Reserva Rioja 2009, Spain, Booths, down from £22 to £19 until January 2: Full of silky, elegant blueberry and raspberry fruit, edged with spice this is good enough for the main event on Christmas Day.
Ch. Lanessan 2000, Haut Médoc, Bordeaux, France, Field and Fawcett, £23.95: Serious claret that is ready to drink now and has bramble fruit, with savoury notes and silky tannins.