CHAMPAGNE & SPARKLING
Sainsbury's Demi-sec Champagne NV, £19
Why I Like It: I’m a big fan of Sainsbury’s branded booze, and this demi-sec champagne is no exception. A great choice if you prefer yours on the slightly sweeter side, it has ripe stone fruit flavours and a beautifully rich honeyed undertone. It goes down a treat.
Pair It With: Spiced dishes, whether savoury or sweet. A wonderful accompaniment to turkey curry on Boxing Day.
Chapel Down Bacchus Sparkling, £14.99
This bottle from the Chapel Down estate in Kent might look simple, but the flavours are complex – look out for aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and elderflower. Crisp and tropical, it’s a crowd-pleaser.
Pair It With: Asian-style nibbles like tempura prawns or sesame toast with the Boxing Day spread. It also goes well with seafood dishes, particularly shellfish like crab and lobster.
Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut, £13.99
Why I Like It: This is one of Aldi’s bestselling bottles of all time, and it’s easy to see why. The champagne is a blend of chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir grapes, from champagne house Philizot & Fils. With hints of ripe apple and soft red fruit, if offers a complex profile for such an affordable bottle.
Pair It With: This works brilliantly as an aperitif, or with canapés topped with something light like crème fraiche or soft cheese.
Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Brut, £13
Country: New Zealand
Why I Like It: Brut can sometimes get a bad rap as it’s often incredibly dry with too much tannin, but this one strikes the right balance. Made from chardonnay grapes, it’s an elegant brut with white peach and citrus fruit flavours. Crisp and refreshing.
Pair It With: This will go nicely with your Christmas breakfast – think smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Add a dash of orange juice for a refreshing mimosa.
François Martenot Cremant de Bourgogne, £12.99
Why I Like It: This is a wonderfully aromatic crémant, deep with intensity and fruity flavour. Specifically made to be enjoyed over the festive period, it uses chardonnay and gamay grapes – ideal if you like a bit of punch.
Pair It With: I like to drink this on its own, but it goes particularly well with spiced chutneys and cheese.
Romain Duvernay Saint Joseph, £14.99
Why I Like It: This is a big wine, but with enough acidity to make it really moreish. It has bold and juicy dark berry fruits, black pepper and cinnamon spice layered on one another. Ideal for a festive gathering, it’s a classic Saint Joseph at a good price.
Pair It With: Richer, fattier birds like goose would be great. Equally, it’ll do well with beef or a nut roast.
Definition Rioja Reserva 2016/17, £11.99
Why I Like It: This is a prime, Christmas classic that delivers mature red and black fruit complexity, uplifting vanilla and toasty oak spice. Concentrated and rich, it’s medium-bodied rather than heavy and dense, with smooth, supple tannins.
Pair It With: This is an all-day Christmas wine. It will see you through lunch, and do brilliantly with cheese. Easy enough to be sipped on its own late into the night too – ideal for boardgames and snacks.
Comtesse Saint Hilaire Montagne Saint Emilion, £10
Why I Like It: This is a properly nice, easy-drinking bordeaux at a price to be generous with. Lots of merlot going on. You’ve got cocoa-y plums, notes of blackcurrant, and a woody, musky perfume. It’s dry, full bodied and has grippy tannins. It tastes and looks classier than you’d expect. Your father-in-law will approve.
Pair It With: Bring it to the Christmas table and keep it flowing until bed, or serve with rib-eye steak topped with stilton.
M&S Found Xinomavro & Mandilaria, £9.50
Why I Like It: Wine is about exploration, so if you want to drink off the beaten track, this wine rewards adventure. Think pinot noir silkiness and elegant herby spice, with a bigger body of rich, dense blackberry and cherry fruit, and a powerful grip of tannin. Fine acidity balances.
Pair It With: Beef. Whether a roasted joint or classic wellington. Mushroom wellington would be great, too.
Summer Road Old Vine Grenache, £8.49
Why I Like It: It isn’t just about rich, classic reds at Christmas. You need some freshness and lift in your day too. This is a smashable, lighter-bodied, red cherry and raspberry-scented grenache from old vines that offer way more character and charm than your average. Fresh acidity and soft tannins mean you could even chill it if you like.
Pair It With: Duck, turkey or goose – basically any type of fowl. I can even imagine this working with a hot smoked salmon fishcake.
Kaapzicht Estate Bush Vine Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch, £13.99
Country: South Africa
Why I Like It: This wine is full of ripe stone fruit, zippy acidity, and an edge of savoury minerality to balance the delicate use of oak barrel. An excellent alternative to your standard oaked chardonnay.
Pair It With: Duck liver pâté or charcuterie meats.
Ascheri Gavi Di Gavi, £13
Why I Like It: If you’re after an excellent white, this one more than fits the bill. Elegant and crisp, it has notes of lemon and grapefruit, with a light mineral finish. Refreshing and highly quaffable.
Pair It With: Smoked salmon or trout fishcakes.
Paco & Lola Albariño, £14
Why I Like It: Albariño has an almost savoury sea-breeze quality to it. Clean with vivid acidity, expect some notes of white peach and a delicate flavour pronunciation.
Pair It With: This would go nicely with a cheese board (if you prefer white over red) or festive nibbles like cheese twists or canapés topped with caviar.
Léon Vatan Sancerre Les Chanvrieres, £14.99
Why I Like It: You’ll be able to detect flavours of crisp gooseberries and lime in this wine. It’s a poised, balanced white that’s particularly smooth. For a wine of this quality, it’s excellent value.
Pair It With: Oysters or seafood platters.
D.V Catena Chardonnay, £12
Why I Like It: This is a prime example of an elegantly oaked white. With notes of ripe tropical fruits, including pineapple, it’s well balanced in an elegant and fresh way. Notes of citrus flavours add extra zing.
Pair It With: Lincolnshire Poacher cheese.
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