Waitrose delegation and found the Prussia
Piedmont, Italy 2020 (£7.99, Waitrose)
With less than 10 hectares cultivated in the world, it is no surprise that I had never tasted a Barossa wine before. The intersection of two great Piedmont grapes, Nebiolo and Barbera, has a bit of both: crunchy, tang, delicious red fruit, and a refreshing finish.
Best value red
The finest Tesco Poimo Carminer
Cachapoal, Chile 2019 (£8, Tesco)
Always a safe bet in Tesco’s Finest range, this is a textbook example that shows how Chile’s leading red grape variety carmineer is in perfect this style: With a subtle herbal shade to ripe black currants, it goes great with Boxing Day roast beef.
Domaine le Roc Les Petits Pebbles
Fronton, France 2019 (£9.95, thewinesociety.com)
A ubiquitous feature of bars and restaurants in and around Toulouse, the hot red hues of Fronton rarely make it outside of southwestern France, but this blend of local négrette and syrah is packed with berries and peppers in a Rhône-like style to suit any roast.
Villa Nardelli Carolina Cafe
Tuscany, Italy 2019 (£9.50, co-op)
John Matta makes a subtle, subtle pop of red from the Castello Vicchiomaggio estate in Chianti, and this co-op collaboration, with its classic Tuscan notes of sour cherry and oregano along with a ripe plum, is usually expressive and highly prized.
Wild Moncayo Garnacha
Spain 2020 (£11.49, or £8.99 as part of a mixed pack of six, majestic.co.uk)
One of the best-valued reds on Main Street, this brilliant example of modern Spanish granaca hails from the ancient bush vines high in the Moncayo Mountains of Aragon. Fragrant, fresh and light tannin, stuffed with strawberries and soft raspberries with sweet pepper. Best for leftovers
Lopez de Heredia Vina Cobelo Rioja Creanza
Spain 2013 (from £15.50, thewinesociety.com; cambridgewine.com; bbr.com)
An exceptionally smart red for the money from the best traditional producers in Rioja. In nearly a decade, this has been at just the right point in its evolution with essential smoothness and perfect tone between the fruity, savory notes of bramble and the flavors of oak-vanilla.
Better with Turkey
Fabrice Jasnier Les Graves Chenon Red
Loire, France 2020 (£17.70, fieldandfawcett.co.uk)
The Loire Franc-based red Cabernet wine makes great chips for turkey and trimmings. In this fully ripe example, the gentle acidity penetrates the fat, and the subtle graphite and red and black currant fruits provide a cranberry sauce-like taste.
Mendoza, Argentina 2019 (from £19.99, goodwineonline.co.uk; quaffwine.com; corksofbristol.com)
At its best, few wines are more enjoyable than Mendoza Malbec. The example of the talented Emilia Soler, made from a small piece of very old vines, is a true stunner, with a silky, polished texture and pure woodland fruit and delightful floral scent.
Best value white
Specially selected Chassaux et Fils Roussanne
IGP Pays d’Oc, France 2020 (£6.79, Aldi)
Generally found as one of the ingredients in the classic white blend of Rhône Valley, the Roussanne here is given the starring role in the Languedoc and it is beautifully executed: ripe and round and sweetly filled to the mouth with fleshy pears and juicy plums. from honeysuckle.
I found Rebola Gilla
Friuli, Italy 2021 (£7.50, Marks and Spencer)
Dry whites made from the northeastern Italian grape variety Ribola Giala are increasingly common in merchant ranges aimed, perhaps, at tired punters of Pinot Grigio. This has a pleasantly fresh and flowing feel, with notes of white peach, ripe apple and a citrusy acidity.
Best for cheese
Sweet wine samos
Northern Aegean, Greece 2021 (£8.99, 37.5cl, Waitrose)
Gently fortified to stop fermentation, which leaves 200g per liter of sugar (and 15% abv), this delicious Greek sweet wine made from Muscat on the island of Samos features aromatic orange blossom honey, crystallized lemon, and cinnamon, preserving freshness to offset the sweetness.
Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap Grenache Blanc
Franschhoek, South Africa 2022 (£9.99, or £8.99 as part of a six-bottle mixed case, majestic.co.uk)
Mark Kent is best known for the red wines they make from Syria, but his in-house brand Wolftrap makes a great line in whites, too. A beautifully balanced, round, smooth dry white color with softly concentrated peachy flavors.
Etna Bianco sands
Sicily 2021 (reduced from £12.99 to £9.99, November 16-29, Waitrose)
The red and white hues of grapes grown in the volcanic soil of Mount Etna can be as delightful and distinctive as their surroundings, shimmering with electric acidity and minerals, and in this local variety a blend of carricante and cattaratto, strong lemon and juicy yellow plum.
Best for fish
Fez Felix Classic Simone-Sauvignon Blanc
Margaret River, Australia 2021 (£12, Tesco)
One of the pioneers of fine Margaret River wines, Fas Felix continues to be one of the leading producers in the Western Australian region. Blending notes of nettle and herbs with the full delicious palate and scent of grapefruit, this white Bordeaux-inspired concoction makes for a popular beginner.
Best white christmas dinner
Baby Mondoza Pure Moscatel
Alicante, Spain 2021 (from £15.50, thewinesociety.com; winefiend.co.uk)
Pepe Mendoza, one of Spain’s preeminent winemakers, evokes a wonderfully complex, aromatic, nervous dry white from Muscat that has been fermented and aged in a clay amphora. There is a delightful chewy note that resembles wine red, yellow peach and orange citrus in a long-lasting metallic finish.
Domain Zen Humbrecht Roche Rolle Georgstraminer
Alsace, France 2019 (from £21, thewinesociety.com; cambridgewine.com)
With its luscious blend of rose water fragrance, ripe exotic fruit, velvety tannin, subtle sweetness, and a delicious dimension that’s hard to define, there’s something almost decadent about this strong and sweet gewurztraminer that fits perfectly with a Christmas feast.
Best for opening gifts
Marks and Spencer Proscoe
Italy NV (£10, Marks and Spencer)
Among the dozens of similar proseccos in UK supermarkets, the M&S House Edition delivers the true brightness and clarity of citrusy, pink pear fruit with just the right level of sweetness in icing sugar bubbles for an early Christmas Day glorification.
The best party wine
L’Occhiolino Sparkling Red Lambrusco
Italy 2021 (£12, Laithwaites.co.uk)
Attractively packaged to make you feel like you’re in some kind of Bologna enoteca, this sweet, low-alcohol (7.5%) is super fun and easy to drink, with crunchy berries, currants and just enough and surprising grip of tannins to match the appetizer.
Simonnet-Febvre Cremant de Bourgogne
Burgundy, France Nevada (£15, Tesco)
The quality of French “other” bottled sparkling wine has improved significantly in recent years, but prices are still significantly lower than those of champagne. This super-ripe, green apple from a leading name in Chablis is an elegant and invigorating aperitif.
Champagne Henriot Brut Suffren
Champagne, France NV (from £29.95, tanners-wines.co.uk; thewinesociety.com)
It may not be one of the biggest names in the region, but Henriot is consistently responsible for some of the best champagne wines, with a wonderful blend of funky flower, buttery toast, and rich stone tones with never-ending. Acid free shine.