MANY people will be glad to see 2020 behind them; so, what wines should we be buying to see us through to the end of this year’s Covid-19 nightmare? I have made a brief masked appearance on the high street to see what is available. As I write this, I also have another worry in mind: Brexit. Because of this, I am concentrating on European wines that it might well be prudent to squirrel away for the future.
Another problem at this time of the year is that offers seem to change from day to day, but, at the time of my sortie, Asda was offering an additional discount of 25 per cent on its prices if you bought six bottles, and Waitrose five per cent. This might well be a good reason to select these outlets for wine.
An added bonus at the latter is perhaps the best free offer of the season, their Christmas Drinks book. Although this mainly promotes the wines, spirits, and beers that Waitrose has on offer, it also has several useful articles on subjects such as wine- and food-matching, and the significance of bottle sizes.
Here, then, are some of the bottles that caught my eye. As far as dry whites to accompany turkey are concerned, from Aldi I would suggest the Chilean Leyda Riesling (£6.49); from Asda, Et de Nuit Viognier vin de France (£4.79); from Waitrose, a Rías Baixas from Spain that I have mentioned in the past, Albariño Fefiñanes (£15.99); and, from Lidl, either the Alsace Pinot Blanc Jean Cornelius 2019 (£6.99), or the Austrian Grüner Veltliner 2019 (£5.99).
And, finally, from Sainsbury’s, something rather different from Hungary: the Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint (£10). For a rather fuller-bodied white wine, the best bargain would appear to be from Aldi: the Pouilly Fumé Les Cigales 2019 Domaine Pierre Marchand et Fils (£10.99). One rosé I can recommend is the Estandon Lumière from Provence 2019, from Asda (£8).
For those who prefer a light juicy red at Christmas, there is the widely available Chilean Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2018 (Asda, £6), or a broad range of wines from the Beaujolais, including a non-vintage Brouilly (Aldi, £6.49), and a Collin & Bourisset Juliénas 2018 (Lidl £7.99). A Spanish alternative might be Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference barrel-aged CUNE Ribera del Duero 2018 (£9).
Italy is a good source for something more robust, and Asda offers a Villa Vincia Montepulciano di Abruzzo (£4.50), and Lidl a Barolo 2015 (£11.99). (I would suggest that you open this wine some hours before you want to drink it.) For those on a tight budget, Lidl also has a German-bottled Australian Shiraz for £3.99, although I think I would prefer to spend a little bit more for their Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, at £5.99.
Year after year, I have suggested the same wine with Christmas pudding and mince pies: the sweetest of sherries, Pedro Ximénez. Sainsbury’s has one from Williams & Humbert with a new packaging this year, but no doubt the same wine (£8, 50cl.). A less intense French alternative is its Taste the Difference Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois (£5.25, 37.5cl.). Christmas is also the time when the Port comes out, and Waitrose is offering Taylors Late Bottled 2015 vintage Port at £10.50: a healthy discount of 33.3 per cent.
Finally, some sparkling options: Prosecco Treviso Frizzante (Lidl, £4.99), Martini Asti Spumante (Asda, £7), and the beautifully mature Waitrose Special Reserve 2008 vintage Champagne at £22.99.
Whatever you drink this Christmastide, enjoy it to the full.
P.S. A friend of mine who worked many years in the wine trade tells me that the very best bargain this year is to be had at Majestic: the Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva “Selección Especial” 2010 at £24.99 in a mix-six buy.