Christine Austin serves up top-value wines for under a tenner to keep costs down before Christmas...or maybe even fill a stocking

Having tasted my way through over a thousand wines in recent weeks, here are the most wallet friendly wines that will keep costs down in the build up to the festive season.

All limbo under the £10 mark and many are such good value you might need to snap them up while the offers are on. The most interesting offers tend to disappear for the peak selling season while stores concentrate on shifting volume, so it is worth buying now and tucking bottles away for a few weeks.

Whites

Côtes de Gascogne, Exotique 2015, South West France, 11%, Lidl £4.49

A fresh, lively, zesty wine, with light peachy aromas and a crisp, lemony palate. Keep a bottle in the fridge to sip while dinner is on its way and pour alongside any kind of fish dish.

Fiano 2016, Sicily, Italy, 13.5%, Tesco £5.25

This comes from Cantine Settisoli, a terrific co-operative that works with growers to get the best quality – and it shows in the wine. Herbs and peaches, with apricots adding to the mix, backed by clear citrus freshness and a rounded, food-friendly texture. Great with canapés, and salad starters.

Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2016, Australia, 14%, Aldi £5.79

Crisp, peachy, honeysuckle notes with pineapple and even a touch of minerals on the finish make this a wine that is perfect alongside a Sunday lunch. No visible oak in this wine.

Alba Albariño 2016, Rías Baixas, Spain, 13%, Asda £6.58

Albariño drinks so well in sunshine, it is difficult to remember to try it in autumn. Its aromas of white flowers and peaches with a juicy, lemony palate freshens the tastebuds and gets them ready for light dishes such as salads and fishy pasta. Also good with fish and chips.

Paul Mas Viognier/Sauvignon Blanc 2016, France, 12.5%, Waitrose £8.99 

An unusual mix of grapes but it works. The Sauvignon lifts the Viognier with lively citrus flavours while the Viognier adds peach and apricot roundness.

Yealands Sauvignon Pinot Gris 2016, New Zealand, 13%, Morrisons, £9 

An unusual blend of crisp, zesty Sauvignon Blanc and a soft, ripe pear style of Pinot Gris – and they work well together. Fresher than a straight Pinot Gris and less pea-pod style than a straight Sauvignon Blanc, this makes a good all-round sipping white wine or for teaming with fish or creamy pasta.

Reds

Cimarosa Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Chile, 12.5%, Lidl £4.19

With soft, ripe blackcurrant fruit and a full rounded palate this is astonishing value for money. Perfectly good enough for mid-week suppers and for the visiting hordes. This is a core-range wine at Lidl, so it should always be on the shelves.

Tesco Claret 2016, France, 12.5%, £4.50

Another great value wine, for really decent quality. Merlot dominated with just a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a lightweight, Monday through Thursday wine that will add style to your supper.

Venturer Series Costières de Nîmes 2016, France, 14%, Aldi, £5.49

Mainly Grenache with a splash of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Marselan this is a temporary addition to the Aldi shelves and its well worth trying. Full-flavoured with silky black fruits and just a hint of spice it will accompany any winter casserole.

Extra Special Barbera d’Asti 2015, Piedmont, Italy, 13%, Asda £5.68

With savoury cherry notes with light grippy tannins and hints of autumn hedgerows, this is the perfect wine to accompany grilled meats and pasta.

Sicilian Shiraz 2016, Italy, 13.5%, Marks and Spencer  £8 

A warm, black cherry and blueberry-filled wine with edges of pepper and spice. It goes wonderfully with tomato-based pasta dishes, but can stand up to a plate of sausage and mash too.

The Best Beaujolais Villages 2016, France, 13%, Morrisons £7

‘The Best’ is Morrisons’ own label and sometimes, their best is not quite the same as mine, but here I agree. This is a lively, juicy, red cherry and raspberry-shot wine, easy to drink alongside ham, pasta and lamb.

Fizz and Fortified

Ca’Di Pietra Prosecco DOC, Italy, 11%, Aldi £12.99 Magnum

In store from next Tuesday and perfect for parties. You will get 12 glasses of good quality fizz from this bottle and big bottles always get people in a party mood faster. Plan ahead for New Year events, magnums often sell out fast.

Tesco Finest Lambrusco Reggiano Frizzante DOC, Italy, 8%, £7

The name Lambrusco was hijacked years ago by, fizzy alcopops, but now the real Lambrusco is back, stacked full of dark bramble fruit, with enough fizz to make it fun, and an edge of sweetness that will make it perfect to go with those bacon-wrapped dates that get served at parties. Serve it chilled, and don’t mention the word Lambrusco until it has been tasted.

Special Reserve Port, Portugal, 20%, Marks and Spencer, down from £16 to £8 until 1 January

I don’t usually believe half-price offers but this one is good, if only slightly overpriced in the first place. The port is made by David Guimarens, one of the best winemakers in the Douro and it is a serious, elegant, black fruit-filled wine.

The presentation is excellent so if you need to buy early Festive gifts then this is a great idea.

Gran Barquero Pedro Xímenez, Spain, 15%, Waitrose, 50cl, £9.99 

Dark and almost gloopy with sweetness, you can drink this from a glass, but it is much better being used to add deep, figgy, raisin and marmalade notes to a dish. Pour it over ice cream, or soak raisins in it before baking a fruit cake. It is especially good drizzled over sticky toffee pudding. Buy now and practice your puds.

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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