Thirsty work

Kidderminster Shuttle: Thirsty work Thirsty work

Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris gets into the festive spirit and selects the best wines to accompany your traditional Christmas dinner.


Twelve wines of Christmas

Gathering family and friends to celebrate the ultimate foodie holiday calls for easy-drinking, quality wines that can complement a fanfare of flavours. Here are twelve suggestions sure to help you eat, drink and be merry.

Smoked salmon, canapes and starters

:: Champagne Charles Mignon Brut Magnum NV, France (£29.99, 1.5 litres, Aldi, while stocks last)

There's no doubting we drink more champagne at Christmas than any other time of year, and Aldi certainly have it all wrapped up with this impressive magnum. Pinot noir dominant, and the equivalent of two bottles, it is elegant and nicely biscuity with a full, rich finish, perfect to flow from the champagne breakfast right through to the Queen's speech.

:: Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, New Zealand (£12.95,

A crisp sauvignon blanc with a pungent nose, lush grapefruit and pretty lime and gooseberry flavours, it's refreshing and impressive enough to run the course and serve with glazed ham on Boxing Day.

:: Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Sancerre 2012, France (£12.49, Sainsbury's)

A Loire Valley beauty, this sauvignon blanc is expressive but subtle with mineral flavours backed up by herb and lemony elements with a hint of smoke on the crisp finish.

:: Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaulignot 2010, France (£16.99,

Chardonnay lovers who like a sleek Chablis will find this wine fresh and beautifully balanced. There's a honeyed note and rich mouthfeel with undertones of seashells and a harmonious, clean finish.

Turkey and all the trimmings

:: Rioja Blanco 2009, Finca Allende, Spain (£18.95,

Pleasantly oaked with inviting ripe tropical fruit flavours, enhanced by lemon cream and guava, this classy white made from viura and malvasia grapes has impressive complexity and length to pair with turkey, bread sauce and roast potatoes.

:: Dewaldt Heyns Weathered Hands Chenin Blanc 2010, Swartland, South Africa (£19.99, Selfridges nationwide)

An elegant and stylish chenin blanc that's creamy and rich with a hint of hazelnut and apricot and vanilla flavours mingling with baked apple. There's enough acidity to keep it fresh, and this is a divine match with bronzed turkey and apricot and chestnut stuffing.

:: Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache 2011, Barossa, Australia (£10.99 from £13.99, when you buy two, Majestic)

The Australian answer to a French or New Zealand pinot noir, cited as the best red wine match with turkey, this gorgeous grenache is smooth and silky with lush cherries, sweet plums and a whisper of spice on the fruity finish. Pukka.

:: Craggy Range Te Muna Pinot Noir 2011, Martinborough, New Zealand (£22.50, Majestic)

An impeccably smooth pinot noir that offers a symphony of sweet black cherries, cassis and soft aromatic fruit flavours with a herbal element on the long, boysenberry soaked finish.

:: Vina Real Oro Reserva Rioja 2006 CVNE, Spain (£17.40,

Big birds, scrumptious stuffing, sausages wrapped in bacon and lashings of gravy cry out for robust wines like an oak-aged Rioja. This tempranillo temptress has a lick of vanilla on the aromatic nose with spicy raspberry and cassis fruit, bolstered by firm tannins on the long finish.

:: Pulenta La Flor Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina (£11.95,

Elegant with a velvety smooth texture, this terrific malbec can handle a rich gravy and chunky cranberry sauce with its concentrated black fruits framed by kirsch and vanilla, with hints of violet on the long, graceful and silky finish.

Roast goose and duck

:: Chateau Pey la Tour Reserve 2009, Bordeaux Superieur, France (£14.95,

A red Bordeaux is a perfect match with goose. This smooth claret is merlot dominant with a splash of cabernet sauvignon for structure plus plump cherry and blackberry fruit with fine tannins and plenty of finesse on the lingering finish.

:: Casa Silva Quinta 5th Generacion 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile (£15.80,

A delicious discovery for people who like to celebrate the main event with roast duck, this lipsmacking red showcases the best blend of cabernet sauvignon, carmenere and syrah with a dark, earthy nose and brambly fruits liberally laced, with bitter sweet cocoa, pepper and vanilla on the extended finish.

:: Best buy

Greenwich gem... Craft brewer Meantime have looked beyond their Greenwich camp and taken inspiration from Champagne for the second beer in its Brewers' Collection range of limited edition beers.

Meantime Imperial Pilsner (£12, 7.9% abv, 75cl, comes in a champagne-style bottle with an individual bath number and tastes as good as it looks, with a clean, crisp taste with a tinge of spice. The result is a light lager in an attractive bottle, both tasty and pretty enough to give as a present.

:: Liquid news

Is this the world's best Martini? According to famous bartender Alessandro Palazzi who resides over Dukes Bar (within Dukes Hotel) which is renowned for creating the best martinis in London, Whitley Neill Gin (£22.19, 70cl, Harvey Nichols nationwide) is the perfect base for the best gin martini.

Palazzi says: "Whitley Neill Gin boasts an enigmatic taste due to its skilful blend of rare African botanicals, including cape gooseberry and baobab.

"It's the unique combination of spices that allow the soft, smooth taste, making Whitley Neill unrivalled as a martini base."

To experience the rich juniper, citrus and exotic spices with its sweet peppery nose and disctinctive floral aroma, here's the recipe to try at home.

Whitley Neill Gin Martini

90ml Whitley Neill Gin, dry vermouth, organic lemon - zest and peel

Swirl a few drops of vermouth around a frozen martini glass so the inside is nicely coated. Add the gin and carefully twist the lemon zest to release the lemon oil into the drink. Add the lemon peel twist to finish.


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