It's nearly Christmas but that doesn't just mean warming red wines. Whites can be great at this time of year, too.

Christmas gatherings don’t have to be grand; sometimes the best ones are the spur-of-the-moment invitations to ‘come round for drinks’.  So make sure you stock up with a suitable range of wines to avoid a last-minute rush to the shops.  White wines are great as aperitifs, with starters and with all kinds of main courses. Here are my best white wine buys for the festive season.

£8 and under

Yella Belly Clare Valley ‘Citrus Bomb’, Australia, Aldi £6.49

This is mainly Riesling, with dollops of pear and spice from Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.  If you decide not to buy it, just because you don’t like Riesling, then think again. Totally dry and packed with citrus, pineapple and baking spices it makes a terrific aperitif.  Now on offer from £7.49 while stocks last.

Forte Alto Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti, 2018, Waitrose down from £9.79 to £6.49 until 3 December

Quality Pinot Grigio with pears, almonds and white peach flavours and an almost dry finish. It comes from the mountainous region of Trentino where it keeps its freshness and zing.

Beronia Verdejo, Rueda 2018, Spain, Waitrose down from £8.99 to £6.74 until 3 December

Crisp and zesty like a Sauvignon Blanc, with melon fruit and fennel notes mid-palate. Try as an aperitif or with fish.

Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Marlborough, New Zealand, Sainsbury down from £8 to £7 until 10 December

Snap this up while it is on offer.  Get in a good stock of this fresh-tasting, thirst-quenching, palate-cleansing gooseberry and blackcurrant-leaf tasty wine.  It makes a terrific aperitif but also goes well with shellfish and canapés.

Finest Pecorino 2018, Abruzzo, Italy, Tesco £7

Have this wine on stand-by as an easy-drinking, herb-tinged aperitif, or to go with almost anything from a cold buffet, from smoked salmon to salads.

The Best Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Loire, France, Morrisons £7.75

Loire Sauvignon Blanc with fresh gooseberry notes backed by softer mango and peach notes.

Irresistible Viognier 2018, Languedoc, France, Co-op £8

Light and crisp with toasted apricot and peach flavours and a touch of spice.  A perfect aperitif, or team it with roast pork and lightly spiced dishes.

£8 – £12

Krasno Sauvignon Blanc Ribolla 2018, Slovenia, Majestic £8.49 on a mix six deal

A small splash ofRibolla Gialla grapes transforms this clean, grassy Sauvignon into a wine with softer, savoury  edges and a rounder palate.  Team with herby pasta.

Taste the Difference Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint 2017, Sainsbury, down from £10 to £8.50 until 10 December

Tokaji is normally associated with Hungary’s fabulous sweet wines but now this region now makes fabulous dry wines with notes of honeysuckle, peach and herbs, shot through with lip-smacking citrus and a streak of minerally freshness.  It will go well with fish, chicken and turkey.

The Best Vouvray 2017, Loire, France, Morrisons £8.75

There are not many supermarkets that still list a Vouvray, but this slightly sweet wine, balanced by fresh, linear acidity is glorious alongside a sticky pork rib or spicy pulled pork served with apple sauce.

Markus Huber Grüner Veltliner 2018, Traisental, Austria, 12.5%, Waitrose, down from £10.79 to £8.79 starting 4 December until 2 January

With its taste of white pepper and crisp peach, Grüner makes a real change from the usual grape varieties.  Try it with a herby roast chicken or alight Thai curry.

Thymiopoulos Vineyards, Atma White 2018, Macedonia, Greece, Booths £9.75

If you are new to Greek wines, try this Xinomavro and Malagousia blend, with floral notes, creamy almond flavours and a bright, minerally finish.

Chablis 2016, France, Marks and Spencer  £12

Classic in style with bright, crunchy apple aromas, citrus fruit and a lean, minerally finish. Team with fish, shellfish and cold roast chicken.  Good enough for a dinner party stuff.

The Doctor’s Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough, New Zealand, 9.5% alc., Booths £10

If you have relatives sipping wine all day then it might be a good idea to switch them to this, slightly lower-alcohol wine.  This has just t 9.5% alcohol compared to most other Marlborough Sauvignons at around 13%. No clever chemical tricks have been used to get this low, just careful management of the grapes on the vines. The result is a typical, lively herbaceous, gooseberry-packed wine.

£12 to £20

Gavi La Toledana 2018, Piedmont, Italy, Majestic £12.99 on a mix six deal

Ripe pears, peaches and a steely backbone make this a perfect wine to match with grilled fish.

Bellingham ‘The Bernard Series’ Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2017, Western Cape, South Africa, Tesco £13

Old vines are the new story from South Africa where old vineyards yield tiny quantities of delicious, concentrated, individual flavours.  This is full of complex nutty, baked apple flavours backed by tropical fruit, citrus, peaches and cream.  Try it with slow-cooked pork.

Les Ruettes Sancerre 2018, France, Marks and Spencer £14

We are all so used to the heady, grassy, gooseberry flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that good Sancerre can seem a little muted at first.  This is made by the only co-operative in Sancerre where 100 growers combine their grapes to make a range of wines. It is full of crisp, citrus and herbaceous notes with crunchy, pebble-like minerally notes.  With a long, balanced, saline finish this is an up-market partner for grilled fish, scallops or sushi.

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough, New Zealand, Roberts and Speight £16.99

Made by Kevin Judd who put Cloudy Bay on the map and then set up his own label, this is head and shoulders about most Kiwi Sauvignons. This is the best price I can find.

Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2017 Elgin, South Africa, Harrogate Wines £18.99

Tasted blind against top wines from South Africa and Burgundy, this shone out of the glass with lemon and lime fruit, edged with creamy toast.  Almost too good to pour for the whole family at Christmas.  Hide a bottle away until everyone has gone home.

Payten and Jones Chardonnay 2018, Yarra, Victoria, Australia, Field and Fawcett £19.95

From two of the nicest, wackiest winemakers I came across in Australia.  I could tell you about minimal intervention, sustainability and the tiny cellar they work out of, but just buy the wine – it is fabulous.   And once they get really famous you won’t be able to afford it.

 

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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