Argh! Presents to buy, party food to organise, and, for some of us, in-laws to mentally prepare for. There’s a lot on our plates right now, but one thing I refuse to let you worry about during this festive frenzy is the wine!
These bottled beauties have been paired with their suitable drinker, so they should have you prepared for any social situation or discerning drinker. To combat the cold, the wines below are from the sunnier climes of Portugal and Spain, where you will experience timeless classics as well as edgy new Christmas number ones. So relax, grab a glass and enjoy – this part of the Christmas-time craziness is covered!
Beronia Reserva, Rioja Reserva 2010, Alta Rioja, Spain £12.99
(Waitrose, Ocado, TheDrinkShop.com)
Want to win some brownie points with your in-laws this Christmas without breaking the bank? Impress them with this incredibly sophisticated Rioja. Made in Alta Rioja, the most elegant part of the Rioja region (naturally, you wouldn’t serve your in-laws anything less), this is a classic Rioja Reserva at its best. Using local grapes that have been matured in a barrel for 18 months, followed by another 20 months of bottle ageing, this wine has concentration, depth and finesse. It’s full of juicy cherry and strawberry flavours combined with festive spicy sprinklings of coffee and clove that ensure Christmas joy. However, this Rioja’s age and the refined techniques that have gone into making it means it’s all supported by a savoury, leathery bass note and satisfying tannins. Serve with any hearty stew, casserole or game dish for instant gravitas!
Vilarnau Brut Cava with Limited Gaudi sleeve, Catalunya, Spain £11.49
(Ocado, TheDrinkShop.com, Cambridge Wine Merchants, the Oxford Wine Company)
Everyone has that friend who loves to have a party and whose hosting puts Martha Stewart’s skills to shame. Bring them a bottle that stands out from the crowd with this captivating Cava and its equally marvellous modernist design! Made from native Catalunyan grapes using the same method as Champagne, this wine has notes of gorgeous golden apples supported by a dry yet earthily enticing structure. There is a reason why Cava was nominated as the rogueish Collin Farrell in my Battle of the Bubbles video – with its gentle bubbles and sexy savouriness, this is a bubbly that can be enjoyed on its own or be absolutely perfect with myriad Christmas party nibbles.
To find out more check out my wines for Christmas video with Jamie Oliver’s Drinks tube.
Quinta do Noval’s 10 Year Old Tawny, Douro Region, Portugal £21
(Waitrose, Ocado, Tanners, Oxford Wines, Cambridge Wine merchants)
A golden-coloured classic for your cherished golden oldies! A blend of grapes from the upper reaches of the Douro are carefully trodden by foot, fermented and aged in oak barrels for 10 years to create this fragrant, nutty, Christmas favourite. Intoxicating aromas of toasted almonds, walnuts, vanilla and cedar spice lull you into the Tawny’s mellow embrace. However, like your favourite OAP, this wine has lived through a lot and has so much to offer. On the palate you are greeted with succulent, concentrated flavours of raisins and prunes, with a flourish of toasted almonds, Christmas pudding spices and a rich sage-like smoothness. Due to its complexity and depth of flavour, this fortified wine goes with everything from pâté, cheeses, mince pies and chocolate desserts. Or, as in my household, enjoyed as a cheeky pre-dinner tipple, with my Nan being my favourite partner in crime!
Noval Black, Douro Region, Portugal £16.00
Looking forward to getting cosy with your loved one and snuggling up with something equally as enticing in your glass? Then this contemporary, seductive, new style of port is just for you. Having only spent two years in oak, this fortified wine is a scented siren – with intense aromas of prunes and cocoa on the nose. On the palate this wine caresses you with mesmerising flavours of plump raisins, poached plums, cinnamon spice and that creamy, cosy coupling of vanilla and dark chocolate. This is a superior ruby port, and you can enjoy all of its exuberance and warmth without aging or decanting, because at Christmas no-one has time for that.
Hopefully this helped, and may you all have a wonderfully Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!