Only the finest wines for your festive table

Close your eyes and open your mouth, let’s see what Santa brings you.

Saturday, 18th December 2021, 6:00 am

Yes, it’s that time of year again, tipplers. Each Christmas at our lovely home, Rose Cottage, my darling wife, the redoubtable Madame G., and I play the ultimate festive drinking game. I close my eyes and open my mouth into which she pours a tiny drop of wine. Whereupon I, not always correctly, name that grape. Oh but when I do get it right, I’m rewarded with one of her most sensuous kisses. Who’s been a good boy this year? Not me!

Alas, due to the threat of Omicron (or Oxymoron as it’s sometimes referred to round here), I can’t share those kisses with you today. I can, however, direct you towards some fantastic wine to toast the birth of Santa Claus. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without champers so why not enjoy your canapes with a few glasses of the impressively vivacious, ferociously crisp and refreshingly light Bissinger & Co Champagne (£19.99, Lidl)? Fabulously fruity and impressively bubbly with persistent frothiness, this effervescent sparkler is packed with intoxicating citrus and green apple flavours which are expertly complemented by beguiling backnotes suggestive of almonds and lemony biscuits. It will go wonderfully well with seafood by which I mean, if you’re lucky, some delicious prawn cocktails before your Christmas dinner.

If you’re having turkey this year, you’ll want either a soft, supple, well-balanced white or a relatively light and lively red. My advice is simply choose the colour you prefer and make sure you don’t run short. That’s the only crime. We’re having today’s RED WINE OF THE WEEK, the versatile, fruity, superbly balanced and delightfully tangy 2019 Chateau Les Rambauds (£9, M&S). Lots of ripe raspberry and damson flavours on its rich, intriguing palate before a smooth, lingering finish. A Malbec to sip slowly and savour.

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Lovers of white may opt instead for the voluptuously perfumed, oak-aged 2018 Domaine du Haut Bourg Muscadet (£9, SuperValu). This taut, tart and bone-dry Loire Valley white is full of stony, mineral flavours alongside sharp citrussy notes of lemon and lime with just a hint of melon before a tingly, salty-nutty finish. Once you’ve polished that off, get stuck into today’s WHITE WINE OF THE WEEK, the elegant, complex and deftly spiced 2020 Gewurztraminer Spatlese (£11.99, Lidl). This off-dry, opulent and vibrantly aromatic white has a hint of Turkish Delight on the nose before a lively palate which teems with melon, peach and lychee flavours while a hint of ginger perks up its lingering finish. It will be an ideal match to turkey or even roast chicken.

If you’re eating goose, roast beef or a fillet steak you’ll want something with more body. Try the robust, rustic and extravagantly flavoursome 2018 Amarone della Valpolicella (£12.99, Lidl). A full-frontal attack of blackberry and plum flavours are nicely countered by soft tannins alongside hints of dark chocolate before a lengthy, judiciously oaked finish.

And then it’s on to dessert and, last but not least, the cheeseboard which I’m trusting will contain a fine Stilton. I’ll have mine with the smooth, creamy and deliciously nutty M&S Special Reserve Port (£12).

In my experience, tipplers, some people drink to unleash their libidos while other folks do it to prop up their egos. And they drink more at Christmas so beware! In olden times it was a much more serious business. People drank their wine or port from lead goblets and if they over-indulged they were often taken for dead and buried in error. Hence, the custom of having a wake to ensure they’d really gone took hold.

Don’t let it happen to you. Drink from a glass and not too much. Let someone else be the fool this year. Have a tip-top, tippling and above all else, peaceful and Omnium, I mean Omicron-free Christmas if you can. Till next year, tipplers, sante!

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