The festive season is well and truly upon us and, as always, it’s the time for some top tips on what to fill the fridge and the wine rack with for the best possible flavours from our champion supermarkets as selected by Ian Mitchell. Tom Gilbey and Ian recently shared some fun ideas as to what each of them will be drinking this Christmas.
To start with, the fizz. No celebration is a celebration without a glass or two. We’re both huge fans of the region of sparkling wines of France which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Loire etc and we’re huge fans of English sparkling too and if you’re pushing the boat out this Christmas, that would be our recommendation, perhaps over and above champagne. English Sparkling wine often uses the same grape varieties as champagne and we share a similar climate and similar soil type.
Here, however, are our three top fizz picks:
Our ‘stand out’ is from the Morrisons ‘Best’ range – their Marques de los rios Cava, blended by the Morrisons team themselves and made in the same bottle fermented method as they make Champagne.
Our top Champagne is from Lidl and it’s a perennial award winner. At just £13.99 this is ‘something else’ and a great way to kick off the celebrations:
… but if you really want to push the boat out and get a bargain to boot, try this wonderful sparkling from Ridgeview, on offer at Waitrose at £21.69, down from £28.99. Made in the champagne method and every bit as good as a top quality fizz from this famous region.
Many of us will be enjoying all sorts of different dishes this Christmas and most of these are a notoriously difficult match for wine. There is often a host of flavour concoctions on the plate and generally the battle is to make sure that our wine can still shine. For those of us who are staying put this Christmas in rather cool and wintery conditions we’d recommend going for a white with a bit of substance and body. It’s celebration time so the Oyster Bay can perhaps skip a day and we could be looking at some wonderful white wines from Burgundy perhaps or some aromatics such as Viognier, Roussane and Gewürztraminer:
Here’s a cracker from Aldi, their specially selected Roussanne from France. Ripe and fleshy with tasty notes of peach and stone fruit, a perfect match for turkey chicken and very tasty as an aperitif too.
Stepping it up again and taking your celebrations into the very special category, try this ‘taste the difference’ Gewurztraminer from Sainsburys. Made by the Cave de Turkheim in Alsace, this is very good quality indeed. Completely delicious with tones of lychee, rose petal and Turkish delight – everything that we love about this wonderful grape variety.
For something a bit more traditional, perhaps slightly safer, but still equally delicious, Morrison’s have their best white burgundy at just £9.50 and it’s absolutely delicious. Pure, fleshy and a match made in heaven for smoked salmon.
All of these wines above will quite happily marry with some of the foods that we might get served this Christmas, such as smoked salmon, chicken, fish turkey … and maybe even the red cabbage.
The reds ….. We like to look for wines with vitality and energy. Wine that lifts the spirits and sings with the food that we’ll be enjoying. I love a Pinot Noir at Christmas time and Ian was quite rightly extolling the virtues of Syrah, another wonderful grape variety with acidity, fruit and flesh in plenty. Here are a few below that we think are well worth a look at.
This Grenache/Syrah from Sainsburys is a hot favourite at just £9.00 from the much underrated region of Faugeres
…. as is Sainsburys Cotes du Rhone ‘Reserve de Bonpas’ which is a steal at just £6.50. Another mix of Syrah and Grenache, but this time with a bit of Mourvèdre in the mix serving up hot, spicy, tangy fruit flavours that’ll compliment any Turkey, red cabbage and cranberry sauce combo beautifully.
… if you wanted to step it up a gear then head to Aldi for their super delicious Amarone. It’s exceptional value for a wine of this quality. Bursting with ripe, stewed plum, balanced with enough acidity to keep the palate alive. A real winter warmer at just £13.99.
That should be plenty for at least a jolly good start this Christmas and if it’s left you still wanting more, we have one final recommendation. The treat to end all treats and it’s to Pedro Ximenez from Sainsbury’s. This with the Christmas pudding or try poured over good vanilla ice cream, there is little more delicious in the world ….. and it’s only £8.00!!