me I don’t know about you, but my idea of hell is to go to the shops on Christmas Eve, and if I do, it’s more likely because I forgot the buds than the Sauvignon Blanc. Be realistic, though: There’s a fair chance your relatives have already drunk you out and about at home, that you suddenly have extra stuff on the benches or you forgot a last-minute gift and a neat-looking bottle will save your blushing.
You might be so confused that a trip to the supermarket seems like the only option (you can pick up those buds at the same time), but if you really want to enjoy yourself and talk to a real live human, may I suggest you spend a happy half hour at your nearest bottle/factory store A winery/brewery/distillery or wherever you can support a local product? And for starters, how about a bottle of English fizz instead of champagne?
It’s also unlikely that you’ll have time to go ahead and bargain-hunt, so let me give you a few tips. First of all, Bordeaux. They’re not all that expensive, as you can see from Asda’s recommendation in today’s pick, but, again, if you’re going to spend on, say, margaux, try spending it at an independent store. Anything from south of the Rhône goes well with turkey, such as Malbec, Zinfandel, and Shiraz. Christmas wine no You have Being French, after all.
Magnums always look festive, but they’re less good for whites or roses, because they’re already likely to be rammed into the fridge. So, red wise, Marks & Spencer has Lomas del Marqués Rioja Reserva 2016 (14%) in the ‘Classics’ range for £17, which works out to £8.50 a bottle. (Don’t go to M&S’s chateauneuf in magnums, though, because they’re much more expensive and not nearly as good.)
Run out of fizz? Don’t overlook the cava, which is generally considered a better value and drier than prosecco—the Lidl Arestel in today’s selection is a special steal. You may have completely forgotten about the non-drinkers at your party, but they won’t thank you for pouring them a scrumptious drink in the middle of December, so sip on some Belvoir Mulled Winter Punch (widely available from about £2.70 for 750ml).
And what about treating yourself too? Is there a guilty pleasure that you enjoy that the rest of the family sniffs a little? Yes, I’m thinking of creamy liqueurs or rather, if you’re vegan, non-dairy like Waitrose Amarula Vegan Liqueur (15.5% £15.5). Botanical and liqueur are not words that you would normally find in the same sentence, but this is actually rather good.
Five bottles at the last minute will save the bacon
Aristel Cava £5.49 Lidl, 11.5%. Perfect for an impromptu Boxing Day or New Year’s Day brunch.
Marques de los Zancos Rioja Blanco 2021 £5 Tesco, 12.5%. Fridge cleaned by the offspring of the house for the holidays? Stock up on this bright, clean, citrusy white.
Zarber Malbec Gran Reserva 2021 £7 Morrisons, 14.5%. A crowd-pleasing, everyday Christmas red at a great price.
Asda Extra Special Chateau Lebousque Medoc 2016 £13, 13.5%. Need a bottle to take to the in-laws (especially if they’re cooking Wellington)? This soft, sweet bordeaux should do the trick.
Belvoir Farm Festive Edition Mulled Winter Punch £2.70 Sainsbury’s. A well-thought-out wine alternative for non-drinkers to go with mince pies on Christmas Eve.