Four bottles of wine in a row

Best Christmas wines for 2019

olive’s wine expert picks out the really special bottles for the big day, and the best bargains to see you through the festive party season

Looking for Christmas wines to buy for the festive season? Wine expert Kate Hawkings gives the lowdown on the best wines for Christmas…

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Buy your Christmas wine ahead

My advice for avoiding stress when buying Christmas wine is to plan ahead. Stock up online for versatile crowd-pleasers to have on standby that will multitask for a variety of festive occasions, menus and dietary requirements. Then splash out on some special bottles for the feasting highlights. It’s an expensive time of year and, with that in mind, all but one of the wines I recommend are on offer in the run-up to the big day. They also all happen to be vegan.

Best champagne and sparkling wine for Christmas

Christmas always needs fizz, of course. Good champagne (check out our guide for the best bottles to buy) is properly celebratory but also properly expensive – keep your eyes out for tempting discounts. Pol Roger is my (and Winston Churchill’s) favourite brand, and its lovely Brut Reserve is down from £46 to £34 at Waitrose from 4 December, while the pretty pink Delacourt Rosé Brut from M&S is reduced from £27 to £22 from now until 2 December. Get more bubbly bang for your buck by looking to other regions of France for crémants – made in the same way as champagne but commanding gentler prices. Try Tesco’s Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux (£8 from 10 December, usually £10) or Cave de Lugny’s sparkling chardonnay (one of champagne’s chief grapes) from Waitrose for £13.99, on offer at £10.49 from now until 3 December. Both would be great for a party.

Best white wine for Christmas

Look for simple, refreshing white wines that go with oysters, smoked salmon and other festive seafood treats, as well as for glugging alone. Muscadet has rather fallen out of favour, so often offers great value for crisp, zingy wines such as Fief Guérin’s Côtes de Grandlieu Muscadet Sur Lie from Waitrose (£6.99, down from £8.49, from now until 3 December). Or try a more trendy albariño from northern Spain – Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Albariño 2018 (reduced from £8.50 to £7.50 from 20 November to 10 December) is aromatic and really refreshing.

Best red wine for Christmas

Pinot noir is my choice for light, quaffable reds that are versatile with food, especially if you chill them a little before serving. Morrison’s Chilean Pinot Noir 2018 (cut from £8.50 to £7 until January) is bright and juicy, but the best bargain out there is the Wine Society’s Osteros Pinot Noir from Hungary at only £6.95. I served it at my daughter’s wedding this year, which tells you all you need to know.

For warming, spicy reds that will sit as well with meat as with earthy veggie dishes, try Waitrose Anda Tempranillo/Syrah (down from £7.99 to £6.49 until 4 December) which has lovely peppery, blackberry fruit, or Cap Royal Bordeaux Supérieur from Tesco (£8, down from £10, from 19 November to 1 January), a friendly, gently oaked Bordeaux made in the modern style. For other great buys, check out the results of the 2019 olive Supermarket Wine Awards here. Happy festive drinking!

@katehawkings


The best Christmas wines for 2019 to try…

Lyrarakis Dafni, Psarades Vineyard, £13.50, Berry Bros & Rudd

An ancient grape known to be grown by the winemakers of ancient Knossos on Crete 4,000 years ago, Dafni has intense notes of bay leaves and roasted nuts. It would be brilliant with our beetroot risotto, as well as anything accompanied with a bay-spiked bread sauce.

A long bottle of wine with a white label

Simpsons Gravel Castle Chardonnay 2018, £17, Roberson Wine

An English chardonnay that ranks with a top chablis, this is gorgeously rich with just a touch of oak. A fine centrepiece for any Christmas feast.

A long bottle of wine with a green tint to the bottle

Castello Banfi La Lus Albarossa 2016, £23.94, Weavers Wines

A rare red grape from one of Italy’s finest producers, albarossa gives layers of silky, spicy fruit and pleasingly firm muscles that would suit a turkey crown or a good juicy steak.

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A dark bottle of red wine with a cream label on the front

Corney & Barrow 20-Year-Old Tawny Port, £33.50, Corney & Barrow

Tawny port is a great multitasker: sweet but with a pleasing freshness, and scents of dried fruit, orange peel and spice, it’s great served chilled with all manner of festive puddings, as well as a cheeseboard. This one is top notch.

A dark bottle with a cream label on the front