Five festive wines and 14 sleeps

Just two weeks or, if you prefer, 14 sleeps till the big day.

By An Occasional Tipple with Raymond Gleug
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 6:00 am

Which means you’ll want me to stick to recommending good wines today rather than sharing my usual witty observations on the inherent absurdity of our fragile existence. Nor will you wish to be regaled with tales of the idyllic life I share with my darling wife, the enigmatic Madame G., at our lovely home on the North coast, Rose Cottage. No room today for my many piercing, profound and philosophical pensees upon life, the universe, the mysterious manouevrings of our political overlords and so forth. Or even to debate the finer points of the Protocol. Fair enough, this week it’s straight down to business, which will revolve mainly around the upcoming festive season and the tastiest ways to get even more tipsy than normal.

You’ll want something sparkly to get your soirees off to a good start. Lidl have just launched a new range of Seasonal Sparklers to help you do just that, with prices starting as low as £4.98 for perfectly pleasing Prosecco. My Madame and I are a bit more high end so we splashed out on the deliciously dry, delicate and ferociously crisp Bissinger & Co Champagne (£19.99). Brimful of citrus and green apple flavours alongside hints of almond, this is a very welcome mouthful of summer that’s guaranteed to brighten up any bleak midwinter’s eve.

And to kick off the festive season, just last week we hosted a soiree for friends where our opening course of scallops and black pudding was paired with another Lidl champagne, the effervescent Comte de Senneval which mixes citrus and biscuity flavours before a clean, dry finish.

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If you’re entertaining, some of your guests will want red, some will want white and, as with your Christmas gifts, you’ll want to give them something that seems more expensive than it actually is. For lovers of red like me, today’s Wine of the Week, the superbly balanced and intensely fruity 2020 Chateau Gillet (£8, M&S) does a convincing impression of an exceptionally fine claret at just a fraction of the price. Dark fruit aromas alongside subtle spicing dominate a complex palate before a judiciously oaked, lingering finish, it will be an ideal match to poultry or pork dishes.

Lovers of white will thank you very kindly indeed for a glass or two of the tart, tangy and fabulously fragrant 2020 M&S Classics Bourgogne Chardonnay (£10). Theatrically ripe lemon and grapefruit flavours mingle with backnotes of hazelnut in this invigorating and delightfully creamy drop which will go wonderfully well with traditional festive fare and will also be an ideal match to gently spiced Asian cooking.

Last but far from least, today’s final selection is the balanced, juicy and delicately spiced 2019 M&S Classics Carmenere (currently £8). Well-defined, ripe blackcurrant and plum flavours, a lean, muscular body and an intensely expressive deep garnet hue combine to create a memorably elegant and mellow wine. One for roast beef or game- a partridge or some pheasant, please..

So, as promised, no time for life lessons today or for any of my occasional musings on what it means to be human, which may actually be a blessing. Self-knowledge is, after all, a dangerous thing- the freedom of being who you truly are. Can you imagine it? No? It’s a terrifying thought. As for me, I’m the kind of person who sometimes feels tempted to cancel the whole shebang... if only they’d let me. Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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