Last night, having just finished setting up for a KMWC wine tasting, a robin appeared and perched on the edge of the ice bucket. Look at the picture above! Could not have been more Christmassy. Anyway, having spent much of last week talking about not drinking on various radio shows to coincide with the launch of my new book (more on that in a mo), I’m back on wine. Specifically, what we’re going to drink on Christmas Day and beyond. There seem to be more champagne deals around this Christmas than ever, but not all that sparkles is gold (I know that should read glitter but go with it). So I’ve picked out a failsafe sparkling option this week, along with a white and red wine to go with the Big Feast. Plus there’s a cocktail that takes seconds to make, perfect for kicking off a party. And for any drivers/non-drinkers give them something from my new book, Teetotal Tipples, out now! See below for details on the drinks and in the meantime, here’s wishing you a very merry Christmas. See you on the flip side.
Current sparkling in the fridge: Bissinger Champagne 1.5l
Price: £27.99 - Buy From Lidl
If ever there was a time to supersize, it’s now. This is a magnum of champagne for under £30, I repeat UNDER £30. Granted that’s still a lot of cash to splash but for your money you get an awful lot of value, champagne-wise. The thing about magnums is that the champagnes inside them age more slowly, so they tend to develop more interesting flavours than a standard bottle. This one has got a really lovely toasty character – just what you want from a glass of the real thing – along with still fresh citrus fruit flavours. And needless to say, it looks fabulous, darling.
Current white in the fridge: FMC Chenin Blanc
Price: £25 - Buy From Great Western Wine
This is made by a chap who took the grape seriously when most around him were using it to make cheap and not-always-cheerful whites in South Africa. And it’s seriously good. Aged in oak barrels, adding brioche and vanilla flavours to the natural honeysuckle character of the grape. It’s rich but not OTT, with plenty of flavour and freshness to match the mash up of flavours on a plate of turkey and all the trimmings. If you don’t want to spend as much but want a taste of Chenin, the Tesco Finest Chenin Blanc comes from the same producer and is a snip at £6 a bottle.
Current red in the rack: The Dead Arm Shiraz
Price: £29.70 - Buy From Majestic
OK, so this is a beast of a wine. I mean full on faceplanting-a-bramble-bush fruity but it’s got layers of other flavours too. Smoky oak, sweet spice and mocha among them. Made by a top notch producer in the McLaren Vale, winemaker Chester Osborn saves the best Shiraz from his vineyards for this blend. The wine gets its name thanks to a vine condition that kills one arm of the vine, so concentrating the fruit on the other arm. Break this one out if there’s beef on the table and save some for the strong, hard cheeses too. Oh, and the Quality Street obviously.
Current cocktail on the shelf: Campari Negroni
Price: £15 - Buy From Waitrose
A Negroni is one of my very favourite aperitifs and is a simple enough drink to make – gin, red vermouth and Campari in equal measure. But that does mean having enough of all three in your cupboard at any one time to make one. This ready-to-go one from Campari means you can simply twist and pour, along with a chunk of ice and a twist of orange peel as you wish. Yep, the mixing has been done for you. Serve in small tumblers as it’s pretty strong; a small measure adds a just-right flush to the cheeks. A great party starter.