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Don’t be a nigaud

06 December 2013

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THE French have a wonderful expression, attrape-nigaud - literally, "twit-trap", and, as I have pointed out in the past, this is what most supermarket BOGOF wine-offers are. Oz Clarke, on the TV programme Watchdog, pointed out the the cheapest wines do not represent a real bargain. If you buy a £5 bottle of wine, he said, the value of the wine itself is 20p; spend £7.50, it is £1.66; £10, it is £3; and so on.

I think it is worth spending a little more on your wine for Christmas. Cheap wine is still there, if you look for it. My local ASDA is still offering certain wines at three for £10, but what was on offer did not appeal to me. A better deal seems to be the Casillero del Diablo Chilean range, in Bargain Booze, at £4.99, whilst other multiples have it from £5.99 to £7.49.

Here are some suggestions for your festivities. For white-wine lovers, I have a host of suggestions, but my number-one choice would be an Alsace Pinot Gris Reserve 2010, from the Beblenheim Co-operative (Waitrose, £9.99). Runners-up in this class would include the zingy Lime Leaf Verdejo 2011 (Laithwaites £6.99) from Spain; Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2012, from New Zealand (Majestic, £9.99); and Bicicleta Viognier 2012, from Cono Sur, in Chile (ASDA, £7.50).

For something more adventurous, Sainsbury's have a Pic Saint Loup 2011 from the south of France at £9.99; and a New Zealand Sauvignon Gris from Marlborough - the Brancott Estate Letter Series Renwick 2011 (£12.99).

With red wines, the choice is broad. If you prefer a lighter style, I would recommend my old favourite Central Otago Pinot Noir Penguin Sands 2012 (Sainsbury's, £10.99). If Bordeaux is more to your taste, I can recommend the Ch. Gressin 2011 from Blaye, a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes (Marks & Spencer, £9.35). But this appears to be a winter of full-bodied reds. From the south of Italy, ASDA offers a multi-award-winning Primitivo di Puglia in its Extra Special range for just £5. Again from Italy, Lidl have a Barolo 2009 (£14.99), and an Amarone della Valpolicella Tenuta Pule 2008 (£19.99).

For lovers of Rhône wines, the choice is wide, but I would recommend the Gold Medal Crozes-Hermitage 2010 from the Co- operative Cellar at Tain l'Hermitage (Marks & Spencer, £14.29), or Aldi's Gigondas 2012 (£9.99). Two reds from Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range which appeal to me are the Portuguese Douro 2011 (£8.49), and, from my old friend Chester Osborn at South Australia's d'Arenberg Winery, an Old Vines Grenache 2010 (£10.29).

Christmas is a time for sparkling wines, and most chains have well-known brands of Champagne on offer. For one that is different (it comes from vineyards in the Aube département rather than the Marne), try Louvel Fontaine from ASDA, at just £12. Both Lidl and Aldi have Valdobbiadene Prosecco on sale for £7.29. My non-Champagne of choice, however, would be the South African Graham Beck Brut (Waitrose £13.99).

Whatever you choose, have a great Christmas.

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