Champagne, sparkling wines and those sweet indulgences

What is the best sound at Christmas? Is it Carol singers, the rustle of wrapping paper or maybe the sheer noise of excited children? All of these are important but the best sound of all is the pop of a cork from a bottle of fizz. That acts like a starting gun for the celebrations, and with a glass of bubbles in your glass the tension of endless shopping, wrapping and cooking just fades away and Christmas can begin.

Whatever your budget there are some excellent sparkling wines on the shelves, some still on special offer – and for those moments when a dessert wine or even a glass of port is required, here are my choices of the best flavours for money.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Fizz Under £10

Wm. Morrison Vintage Cava Rosado, Spain, Morrisons down from £7 to £6.50 until 2 January

Pink fizz makes everyone smile and this has terrific flavours too. With strawberry and raspberry fruit and just a hint of toast, this will accompany canapés and buffets perfectly.

 

Heretat El Padruell Cava Brut, Spain, Marks and Spencer down from £8.50 to £6.50

Crisp and clean with apple and lime zest fruit and a zippy, fresh-tasting finish this is perfect for any large gathering.

Taste the Difference Prosecco Conegliano, Italy, Sainsbury, down from £10 to £7 until 1 January

With so much Prosecco on the shelves it is difficult to know which are really worth their price. This one definitely is, and on offer it is an absolute bargain.   Delicious creamy, pear and apricot-soaked flavours with a soft fruity style make it a real crowd-pleaser.

Finest* Lambrusco Reggiano Frizzante, Italy, Tesco £7

Lambrusco is the wine everyone loves to hate. Its name 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 make it perfect to go with those bacon-wrapped dates that get served at Christmas. Serve it chilled, and don’t mention the word Lambrusco until it has been tasted.

Fizz £10 to £15

Cave de Lugny Sparkling Burgundy Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, Waitrose down from £13.99 to £10.49 until 31st December

Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, from Macon in Burgundy, this is deliciously creamy with apple and peach-edged fruit and a toasty finish. Enjoy as an aperitif or with scallops and smoked salmon.

Finest* Crémant de Limoux Rosé 2015, France, Tesco £11

From the cool hills of Limoux in southern France this is a crisp, lively, elegant strawberry-edged fizz. Perfect for pouring alongside a whole roast salmon on Boxing Day.

Ca’ de Pietra Prosecco DOC, Italy, Aldi £12.99 for 1.5l

Two bottles-worth of Prosecco in one big party-sized magnum. Floral, frothy and fruity.

Graham Beck Brut Rosé, South Africa, Majestic £14.99 down to £12.99 on mix six deal

From one of South Africa’s premier producers this is a classy, quality fizz with red-berry fruit and a creamy mousse.

Fizz £15 to £20

Les Pionniers Champagne Brut, France, Co-op £16.99

Not on offer but terrific value, even at its full price, this is one of the most consistent supermarket champagnes on the shelves. It comes from Piper Heidsieck and is bright with apple and citrus notes and a creamy, toasty finish. A sheer delight on Christmas morning.

Louis Vertay Brut Champagne, France, Marks and Spencer down from £34 to £17 until 1 January, in store only

Perhaps slightly challenged at its full price, on offer this fizz offers terrific flavour for money. Made by quality producer Duval-Leroy with a substantial proportion of Pinot Noir adding weight and fruit, it has sleek, toasty brioche notes and enough flavour to last all day.

Finest* English Sparkling Wine NV, Tesco £17.50

This comes from Hush Heath, one of the best producers of English sparkling wine and it tastes like an English spring morning. Made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and fermented in the traditional in-bottle way it has aromas of white flowers and a crisp, lemon curd on toast palate.

Bollinger Special Cuvée NV, Brut, Waitrose down from £22.99 to £17.99 for 37.5cl until 26 December

When all your guests gave gone and it is time to snuggle up close to the fire with your loved one, a half bottle is just the right size for two. Gorgeous deep flavours that will definitely add a sparkle to your Christmas.

Push the boat out

Finest* Vintage Grand Cru Champagne, 2009, France, Tesco £25

Seriously upmarket champagne from Tesco made from 100% Chardonnay and aged for 7 years on its lees to give pure elegant flavours with balance, precision and finesse.

 

 

Roederer Brut Premier NV Champagne, France, Waitrose down from £42.99 to £34.39 until 26 December

An absolute favourite Champagne that balances rich toast and fruity flavours with clean elegant lines and a long, tongue-tingling finish.

Sweet Desserts

Ch. Roumieu 2014, Sauternes, France, 37.5cl, Co-op £12.99 down to £8.99 until 2 January

Fabulous crystallized pineapple flavours with a clean, crisp finish. Serve with fruit-based desserts, blue cheese or the afternoon movie. A half bottle will serve 6 polite sippers

Sauternes Château Suduiraut, France, 37.5cl, Waitrose down from £15.99 to £12.99

Ch. Suduiraut is just a stone’s throw from Yquem and makes sensational wines, including this partnership wine with Waitrose. Crisp with notes of pineapple and mango, with honeyed richness on the palate.

Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling 2014, South Africa 37.5cl, Booths £15

With apricot, pineapple and baked tarte tatin flavours backed by clear linear clementine and mandarin freshness this goes wonderfully with fruit desserts.

Fortified flavours

Exquisite Collection Amontillado Sherry, Spain, 37.5cl, Aldi £5.59

Packed with the taste of raisins, nuts and just a hint of figs, try with a bowl of nuts or with mincepies.

Grahams Crusted Port, Morrisons, down from £20 to £16 until 2 January

There is a slight deposit in this wine so you need to decant it, but this will encourage you to enjoy it and finish it off before the end of Christmas. It is full of dark bramble fruit with hints of black pepper and spice. Enjoy with cheese and fruitcake.

Quinta do Noval 10 year old Tawny Port, Waitrose down from £24.99 to £19.99 until 26 December

A mellow, mid-afternoon style of port with bags of figgy fruit caramelised orange peel and a smooth, balanced finish. Accompanies a bowl of mixed nuts or a piece of cheese perfectly.

 

 

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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