Back to that middle point, though: good drink. We asked top millennial wine expert, Lily Thomas, to talk us through some show-stopping tipples that deserve to be appreciated and savoured with our nearest and dearest.
Even better, she’s cast her discerning eyes over the best our supermarkets have to offer and come up trumps with some truly delicious options starting from as little as £5.79 – because great wine needn’t cost loads.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and while we’re all about drinking responsibly, we’re not averse to getting sloshed on the good stuff, occasionally, either. After all, Christmas is supposed to be about good food, good drink and (here’s hoping) good company. And, we could all do with as much festive merriment as we can muster this year.
So grab a wine glass, and let’s get started…
The best for bubbles
“For Christmas it’s nice to start with something bubbly, soft and sweet,” says Lily. “Champagne is a lovely idea and there are some great versions on the shelves. Champagne traditionally has flavours of brioche and baked apple. This is great for most Christmas foods and the refreshing acidity cuts through any richness.”
Lily recommends: Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut, £12.99 from Aldi. “It has the traditional flavours of apple and pastry and pairs wonderfully with most starters and canapés.”
An alternative to champers
“A fresher and lighter choice to Champagne is a Crémant de Loire,” says Lily. “The grapes are different to Champagne grapes, so Crémant de Loire has more tastes of peach and lemon.” Therefore if you’re looking for a sweeter and more budget-friendly alternative to Champagne, Crémant is a great option to try.
Lily recommends: Extra Special Crémant de Loire, £9 from Asda.
The best for a full white wine
“For Christmas and this cooler time of year, a heavier white is a good idea,” says Lily. “Fuller white wines pair well with Turkey, gravy and even pigs in blankets!” As for where to look, in general, the more sun the grape is exposed to, the more weight it will have. “Wines from warmer climates tend to be fuller,” says Lily, “so look for wines from sunnier areas like Portugal and Southern Italy.”
Lily recommends: Taste the Difference Douro White, £10 from Sainsburys. “It makes a lovely Christmas dinner pairing,” she says.
The best for a soft white
“Bordeaux and its neighbouring region, Bergerac, have white wines made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon,” says Lily. They benefit from the fresh aromatic flavours of Sauvignon Blanc “but the Semillon adds weight and body, softening the wine to making it food friendly and perfect for Christmas Dinner,” she says.
Lily recommends: Bergerac Blanc Grand Reserve, £6 from Sainsbury’s.
The best rich red
“Christmas food is full of warm spices like cinnamon, pepper and cloves, and Spanish wines like Rioja and Ribera Del Duero match these flavours well,” Lily says. “These wines are made with the grape Tempranillo which is known as rich and spicy.”
Lily recommends: El Duque de Miralta Rioja Reserva, £12 from Marks Spencer. Her top tip? “Open this wine an hour before drinking to make the most of it.”
The best mellow red
“Good wines for pairing with a cheese board are made from grapes like Merlot, Carmenere or Malbec,” says Lily.
Lily recommends: Exquisite Collection Argentinian Malbec, £5.79 from Aldi. “It has structure enough acidity to cut through any salty and creamy cheeses and it’s not too fruity.”
The best for dessert
“If you want a wine to go with dessert, try to find a wine sweeter than your pudding,” says Lily. “Good sweet wines have flavours like honey, walnuts and dried fruits. The famous French wine, Sauternes, is best known for their sweet wines,” she explains. Since they’re often drunk in small servings, half bottles of around 35cl are a good budget friendly option.
Lily recommends: Sauternes, £7.49 from Lidl (check in store), or Finest Sauternes, £12 from Tesco. “As it’s a sweet wine, it should be serve chilled,” she advises.