FOR a number of years now, I have suggested that the ideal wine to have with mince pies and Christmas pudding is the ultra-sweet sherry Pedro Ximenez, and I am pleased to see that this now is stocked by most of the main retailers.
My favourites have been Hidalgo’s Triana (Majestic, £14.99, 75cl.*), and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, from Williams & Humbert (£8, 37.5cl.); but Lidl has its Tio Nico at just £5.99 (37.5cl), Marks & Spencer Rare PX (£7.49, 37.5cl.), and Waitrose the luxurious Noe from Gonzalez Byass for the hedonist at £25 (37.5cl.).
It does take a full-bodied wine to stand up to the traditional British Christmas desserts, and I suggest Quady’s Black Muscat 2014, (Majestic, £11.99, 37.5cl.), Sainsbury’s Winemaker’s Selection Full Rich Madeira (£7, 37.5cl.), or its Muscat de St Jean de Minervois (£5, 37.5cl.).
If your preference at the end of the meal is cheese and nuts, I would suggest a bottle of old tawny Port. There appear to be two bargains, both at Lidl: Saint Clair 1997 vintage Colheita, £14.99 a bottle, and Maynard’s 40-year-old tawny, from the Barão de Vilar Estate (£29.99).
Some months ago, I forecast that there would be a shortage of the current favourite Prosecco but the shelves are awash with it. Price-wise, the best offer appears to be at ASDA, where you can buy six bottles for £24, or £5 a bottle. Lidl has a Prosecco Piu Secco for £4.49, and a superior D.O.C. wine for £5.09. I would recommend Sainsbury’s Conegliano Prosecco Superiore, £8, also available in magnums for £18.
While Cava appears to have lost ground to its Italian rival, it still represents good value for money. The Co-op is offering its brut and rosado for just £5.99 a bottle, while Lidl have Arestel Cava brut at £4.49, and the sweeter semi-seco for £5.99. Sweeter still is Sainsbury’s Winemaker’s Selection Asti for £5.50.
There are some interesting wines that I have noted. In Lidl, a Blanc de Noirs de Senneval for £9.97, and a Premier Cru wine from Bissinger for £15.99; ASDA has Pierre Darcys Brut Rosé silver medal wine for £29.50, though it is offering Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé for £18, and Sainsbury’s Defontaine NV is £12. If you are looking for the well-known marques, Majestic is the place to go.
Finally, two sweet possibilities for Christmas: for the humble, Sainsbury’s House Dessert wine, from Rheinhessen in Germany, £4; for the plutocrat, that historical titan from the Cape, Vin de Constance 2011 (Majestic, £54, 50 cl.).
May we all have a peaceful Christmas.
*Prices correct when going to press.