From feel-good gluggers to classics and fine wines, Sam Wylie-Harris reveals her pick of the best whites and reds for toasting the holidays.
Christmas is all about coming together, and wining and dining is one of the highlights of the holidays. But with a fanfare of flavours being served up, finding the perfect wines to complement the festive fare can be as complex as a top-tier Bordeaux.
Far better to select wines with broad appeal that stand up to the occasion, and are worth raising your glass to. And just remember, the biggest faux pas would be to run short – so make sure you over-cater.
You’ll have a jolly good time pulling the corks on any of these top picks this Christmas…
1. McGuigan Reserve Shiraz 2015, Australia (£7, Sainsbury’s)
Need a crowd-pleasing red? This spicy fruit bomb is soft and smooth enough to make your bronzed bird soar, has a trace of pepper to spike up the trimmings, and will appeal to fans of ripe sweet fruit with gentle tannins.
2. Dawn Patrol Sauvignon Blanc 2016, South Africa (currently reduced to £7.49 from £9.99 until December 26, Waitrose)
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, this zesty, even mix of tropical fruit flavours, juicy stone fruits, green, grassy notes and lovely herbaceous aromatics is as pure and fresh as the fallen snow.
3. Pizo Carineña 2016, Spain (£9.99, Virgin Wines)
By its very name, this Spanish beauty (from Carineña) is testimony to how the carignan grape can produce concentrated, sun-kissed reds, with bags of blueberry and damson fruit and freshness on the long, berry rich finish.
4. Wm Morrison Crozes Hermitage 2015, France (£11, Morrisons)
A savoury and sophisticated Rhone red that scooped three silver medals, this syrah (shiraz) shows plenty of class, with rich blackberry, black cherry and violets driven by firm tannins, pepper and spice, balanced by fine acidity. The red to pluck if your food of love is peppered steak and roast potatoes.
5. Luis Canas Blanco Fermentado en Barica 2016, Spain (£12.50, Hennings Wine)
Bright and lively with a little bit of oak ageing to show a honeyed roundness to the ripe orchard fruits; there’s hints of lemon, orange peel, hazelnut and undertones of vanilla. Delicious on its own, this white Rioja will work wonders with smoked salmon, scallops or langoustine.
6. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, California (£20, Marks & Spencer, in stores only)
Thanks to the royal engagement, chances are Californian wines will be competing for our attention, and this gorgeous cab sav has the good fortune of being just within reach.
Utterly delicious and extremely fragrant and rich, the wine opens up with a heady mix of blackberry, violets, herbs and mint, which continues to seduce with every sip. A top drop from this cult wine region.
7. Simmonet-Febvre 2015 Chablis, Premier Cru Vaillons, France (£28.99, Waitrose Cellar)
Chardonnay lovers fond of a sleek Chablis – with delicate aromas of white flowers and the purity of fruit you find in a premier cru that’s laced with minerally characteristics, ripeness and freshness – will adore this beautifully balanced, un-oaked style.
8. Berry Bros & Rudd Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2016 by Crittenden, Australia (£34.95, bbr.com)
O tidings of comfort and joy… A structured and elegant pinot that’s so plush and palate-pleasing, the strawberry and raspberry fruit flavours framed by herbs and set against a backdrop of fine tannins, could be long gone before you’ve had a chance to focus on the core of crunchy red fruits and savoury long finish.
© Press Association 2017