The 25 best wines to enjoy this Christmas – from red for the turkey to bargain champagne


This advent calendar of suggestions will make choosing your Christmas wines just a little bit easier

This advent calendar of suggestions will make choosing your Christmas wines just a little bit easier – Joren Joshua

Picking wines for Christmas can feel like yet another daunting task so I’ve put together an advent calendar of suggestions to make it a little bit easier. The first door reveals a bargain of a bottle of vintage port that can even be opened before December commences, because I think it is a mistake to leave port until Christmas Day itself. The rich perfume of this fortified wine is a brilliant scene-setter, best enjoyed in the Christmas run-up. Open it now!

I’ve also found wines to pour with a warm mince pie, while you decorate the tree, and to match smoked salmon; some all-round good-value bottles that work as house wines or to open for impromptu drinks when neighbours drop in; and wines to drink with classic Christmas food.

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A quick note about fizz: I will be recommending more sparkling wines and champagnes in a couple of weeks’ time; I have already named my two best supermarket champagnes (Les Pionniers Brut Champagne NV, France, £21.50 at Co-op, and Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne NV, France, £26.99) in my recent parties guide.

Also, if you follow my Instagram account (@how_to_drink) you’ll find bonus wine recommendations from each of the wine merchants and supermarkets mentioned in this article. Happy drinking!


1. A glass of port for Stir Up Sunday

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Finest Vintage Port 2013, Portugal

20%, Tesco, £22

Getting a jump-start on December, this is Christmas in a glass! This port has gorgeous depth and is insanely good value; also don’t overlook how impressive it is for any wine at this price to have 10 years of age on it. Port often gets lost among the rich food at Christmas itself so start now and enjoy it more.

2. The festive sauvignon blanc

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Adnams Sauvignon Blanc 2022, Vin de France

12%, Adnams, £8.49

Bursting with juicy notes of white peach, lime and gooseberry fool, this is made from grapes grown around the Loire but has a luminosity that will appeal to Marlborough sauvignon fans too (my mum gave it the thumbs up and she is picky as). Gorgeous with guacamole when you need to move away from pigs in blankets.

3. Decorating-the-tree fizz

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La Jarra Rosé Special Cuvée Frizzante NV, Veneto, Italy

10%, Swig, £14.50; Noble Green Wines, £12.50

A succulent and uplifting frizzante with luscious notes of wild strawberry and pomegranate. Made with glera and raboso, this organic, gently sparkling pink is very moreish indeed and really stands out from the sea of so-so fizzy wines. A gorgeous apero and good with cold cuts too.

4. Smoked-salmon white

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Château Courbin Héritage Grande Reserve 2022, Graves Blanc, France

13.5%, Stone, Vine & Sun, £13.95

A gorgeous white from Bordeaux made, unusually, with 85 per cent semillon (the balance is sauvignon blanc). A riff of grapefruit and sea spray brings freshness, like glimmering gold threads and a forest breeze (there’s a tiny bit of oak), over warmer, softer flavours of pear, dried mango and beeswax. Very classy and Christmassy.

5. A rosé for winter

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Lyme Bay Winery Pinot Noir Rosé 2022, England

12%, lymebaywinery.co.uk, Wickham Wine, Somerset Wine Company, around £20

A deep pink still wine that smells of red cherries and has juicy flavours of cherries and strawberries. It is great to see an English wine producer going for its own style of rosé rather than trying to mimic Provence. Pour with pork pie or cold cuts.

6. House white #1

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Stellenrust Stellenbosch Manor Chenin Blanc 2023, South Africa

13.5%, Sainsbury’s, £10, down to £8 until 12 Dec

A white that is rounded but also refreshing with some warmer, fruity notes – think red, rather than green apple, ripe yellow not hard white peach and candied kumquat when it comes to the citrus. It makes a good apero, as all house whites must, and is a good all-rounder with food.

7. House white #2

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Finest Falanghina 2022, Italy

13%, Tesco, £8.50

A tangy and refreshing white that has a faint scent of oranges, a flavour that is always so appealing in the depths of winter. From Campania in southern Italy, it is made for Tesco by the excellent Feudi di San Gregorio and will taste especially good alongside fish dishes or fennel gratin. The fresco-style illustration on the label adds to the appeal.

8. House white Burgundy

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Lea & Sandeman White Burgundy 2022, France

13%, Lea & Sandeman, £17.95, or £16.50 in a mixed case

From a single vineyard, an immaculate and tantalising white Burgundy, as you would expect from Lea & Sandeman. Adnams also has a good contender with its own-label White Burgundy Cuvée Mallory Talmard (13%, Adnams, £14.49). If that is still too pricy, try Robert Oatley Signature Series Chardonnay from Margaret River in Australia (13%, Co-op, £12.50).

9. House red #1

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Bergerac Eglise Saint-Jacques NV, France

13%, Tesco, £7

A smooth and easy-going red that comes from the Bergerac region and is made from the same mix of grapes – merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc – that you find in nearby Bordeaux. I like the taste – sweetly ripe forest fruits with a waft of redcurrant leaf – and I like the smart label which looks like you’ve spent way more than £7.

10. House red #2

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Quimay Valle de Uco Las Chacayes Cabernet Franc 2021, Argentina

13.5%, The Wine Society, £9.95

If Argentina made cut-price Pomerol…I was blown away by this rounded, yet also fresh, cabernet franc grown at altitude (1,250m). It smells of pencil shavings (it is gently oaked), redcurrant jelly and cherry blossom and there is almost no time at which I wouldn’t drink it, as an apero, with roast duck, with sausages…

11. Christmas dinner white

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Deux Grives Grande Réserve Marsanne-Viognier 2022, Pays d’Oc, France

12.5%, House of Townend, £9.99

A sensational white for the price, this is gently perfumed with hints of roasted almond, soft yellow plums, white blossom and musky apricot wrapped around a firm core. With warm flavours underpinned by a tangy freshness, this is a great winter white that works as an apero as well as with the festive food.

12. Big family Christmas dinner red

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The Hedonist Shiraz 2021, McLaren Vale, Australia

14%, Waitrose, £14.99, down to £10 from 29 November while stocks last

This isn’t one of those glossy, dense, dark, oaky Aussie shirazzes. Instead, expect a relaxed, open, nuanced and perfumed red with mulberries, brambles, nutmeg and an edge of freshness that will work well with chestnut stuffing, sausage-balls and the rest. Total bargain at a tenner.

13. Unexpectedly good claret (with some maturity)

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Esprit de L’Eglise Pomerol 2013, Bordeaux, France

13.5%, Tesco, £25

Honestly, I usually avoid 2013 but this is a beautiful wine, now showing some maturity with soft notes of tobacco and sweetly ripe berries on the mid-palate. Add to that a smart label and a real sense of prestige. A parcel of claret sourced by Tesco for Christmas, it will only be around for a while.

14. Sweetie with the cheeseboard

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Sárga Borház Tokaji 2022, Hungary

12.5%, Lidl, £8.99 for 50cl, available from 30 November as long as stocks last

Tokaji is one of the world’s great sweet wines and this is made by Disznóko, one of the best producers. With notes of marzipan, fig leaf, white peach, ginger and dried orange, it is a beautifully fresh sweet wine. Try with a chunk of panettone, Stilton or soft white cheese.

15. The crisp white

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E.H. Booth & Co. Gavi 2022, Piemonte, Italy

13%, Booths, £10

An immaculate white as crisp and sharply refreshing as the air in the snowy mountaintops. The grape here is cortese, the region is Piemonte in northern Italy and the flavours are of fresh lemons, bay, green apples and white stones. Made for Booths by Stefano Massone, it is a cut above other supermarket Gavi.

16. Christmas à deux nebbiolo

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Gian Luca Colombo Langhe Nebbiolo 2021, Piemonte, Italy

Swig, £34

Almost too good to share, this nebbiolo is made by the award-winning Gian Luca Colombo in the garage under his house. Open and enveloping with notes of tobacco, balsamic strawberries, dried rose and church incense, it would be great with rib of beef with stuffed onions or turkey with creamy parmesan sprouts and chestnut stuffing.

17. A warm mince pie and a glass of sherry

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M&S Classics Rich Cream Sherry NV, Spain

18%, M&S, £9

What is best to drink with mince pie? Some love Muscat Beaumes de Venise, a refreshing sweet wine whose orange blossom scent makes the sultanas and raisins in the mincemeat seem more juicy. I crave sherry, specifically a sweet cream sherry such as this excellent version made by Bodegas Williams & Humbert.

18. Supermarket St Emilion for carol singing

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Taste the Difference St Emilion 2021 Bordeaux, France

13%, Sainsbury’s, £12 down from £14 from 22nd Nov to 12 Dec

An attractively fruity St Emilion made from 90 per cent merlot and 10 per cent cabernet franc, this is warming and easy with gentle oak spice. It is a winner to pour with rich, wintery food from roast pumpkin or sweet potatoes to joints of beef or just sausage and mash.

19. Best-value champagne

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Champagne M&G Heucq Fossile Brut NV, France

12.5%, Lea & Sandeman, £29.95, or £27.50 in a case of six

Explore in Champagne and you can find seriously good wines with character and so much joy for not much more than the cost of a supermarket bottle. From a family producer in the Marne valley, this is made with 50 per cent pinot meunier (but tastes lighter). Incredible value and a delight.

20. Smart pinot noir

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Carrick Winery Organic Pinot Noir 2018, Central Otago, New Zealand

14.5%, Telegraph Wine Cellar, £36.50, or £32.85 in a mixed case

Pinot noir from New Zealand is now seriously good and the wines from Central Otago can, like this example, have a wonderful depth, perfume and power. This one also has a savoury edge; pour a glass with rib of beef or roast duck and watch the flavours unwind.

21. For Christmas Eve fish pie or vegetable gratin

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Château Olivier Le Dauphin d’Olivier 2021, Pessac-Léognan, France

13.5%, Co-op, £17.50

I’ve long had a serious soft spot for the white wines from Château Olivier and what a joy it was to find this one in the Co-op. The smoky-baked lemon and grapefruit flavours, underpinned with flashes of cedar and a subtle tropical warmth are superb with smoked fish or crunchy gratin of any kind.

22. Something for Santa

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Penfolds “Father” Grand Tawny 10 NV, Australia

18%, Majestic, £26.99, or £22.99 in a mixed six; Tesco, £26; Harvey Nichols, £29

With flavours of roasted macadamia nuts, raisins, sultanas and crème caramel, this fortified wine is Australia’s answer to 10-year-old tawny port and is good drunk slightly chilled. I’d pour Father Grand Tawny for Santa, while wrapping presents, for pudding alongside vanilla ice cream or with the cheeseboard.

23. A white to elevate Boxing Day leftovers

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Domaine du Père Caboche Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2022, Rhône, France

13.5%, Yapp.co.uk, £29.25

A hedonistic white, made from 40 per cent clairette and 30 per cent bourboulenc. With an airy fragrance of almond blossom, honeysuckle and white peaches and gorgeously textured with refreshing notes of greengage and citrus. White Châteauneuf with turkey leftovers (especially bread sauce) is one of the great unsung pleasures of Christmas. Try it.

24. Roast ham or Boxing Day leftovers red

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Specially Selected Vinsobres 2022, Rhône, France

14.5%, Aldi, £8.99

The red berry scent and pom-pom warmth of grenache-based blends from the Southern Rhône such as this are not just a congenial red to put on the table, they also enhance the succulence of roast ham (a bit like Cumberland Sauce) and go with all the porky bits from Christmas Dinner too. A super bottle.

25. A bonus bottle: Fireside rioja

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Cune Imperial Reserva 2014, Spain

14%, Co-op, £22

There is plenty of good cheaper Rioja about – look to the Finest range at Tesco or to Booths own-label if you need a steer – but there is something quite special about this bottle, which has reached a very elegant and easeful point in its maturity. With notes of cinnamon stick, fruit cake and soft leather, you could put this with just about anything.

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