Christmas cheers: Olly Smith’s 30 best festive drinks—
These are my top picks from across the high street and online to ensure the best booze reaches your glass this Christmas. From bargain to blow-out, stock up across my sumptuous selection for a marvellous and very Merry Christmas.
Rosé: Domaine Saint Felix 2019 (12.5%), £8.50, leaandsandeman.co.uk. Now you’re talking! Seriously good rosé with a seamless elision of peach, red fruit, summer berries and a long fragrant finish of vitality and refreshment.
Fizz with smoked salmon: Roebuck Classic Cuvée 2014 (12%), £35, roebuckestates.co.uk. I bought six bottles as soon as I tasted this. Incredibly balanced between fruit and finesse, it knocks spots off big-name Champagne for four times the price.
With fish: Extra Special Chenin Blanc 2019 (14%), £5 Asda. Peachy and ripe with glossy texture, this South African white is spot-on with everything from fish pie to prawns, scallops and poached salmon.
Party fizz: Classics Prosecco NV (11%), £8 M&S. Bright, light and fruity as a pear on a trampoline, this bubbly is exquisite and superb quality for the cash.
Party beer: Crumbs Bloomin’ Amber Lager (4.8%), £2.65, Waitrose. Immaculately balanced between lager and ale, this is malty magic. Serve chilled for the ultimate brew to win the widest number of fans.
Blow-out white: Amos Bianco Kellerei Kurtatsch Alto Adige 2017 (13.5%), £25.90, hhandc.co.uk. Next-level Italian wine. A rich, sleek beauty with subtle gingery spice. Outstanding with festive ham or pork.
Magnum: Château Clos Fontaine Côtes de Francs Magnum 2016 (13.5%), £39, privatecellar.co.uk. All the Bordeaux you’ll need, made from 65-year-old Merlot vines, this has ripeness and elegance to make you grin with glee.
Bargain: Animus Portuguese Red Blend 2018 (13%), £3.99, Aldi. Aromatic spice, powerful, deep fruit and, what’s more, astonishing value – this season’s bargain red belongs to Aldi.
Blow-out red: Pinot Noir Précoce 2019 Flint Vineyard, England (12.5%), £20.95, bbr.com. Worth every penny, this light red is scented and splendid. I buy it, I love it and it’s the future of English wine. Terrific with cold cuts.
With Christmas pudding: Gran Barquero Pedro Ximenez (15%), £9.99, Waitrose. Deep, dark, sweet, delicious. Think liquid sultanas, sweet dates and dried figs. Serve this chilled with your Christmas pud for a scrumptious tot of a treat.
Offer: Esprit de Chablis 2018 (12.5%), £10, Waitrose. Down from £17.99 from 2 December, be ready online and order the lot! This is creamy precise Chablis for ten quid – a seriously good offer that’s unmissable.
A treat with turkey: Beronia Gran Reserva Rioja 2011 (14.5%), £24.99, Majestic. Perfectly powerful yet balanced to crown your Christmas feast. I’ve tasted my way through the realm of Rioja and this is up there.
Fridge white: Paco & Lola Albariño 2019 (13%), £12, Sainsbury’s. Astonishingly good, zingy and intense with magical refreshment and peachy character. Keep on standby in the fridge for an instant classy quencher.
Gift: Le Faîte Blanc 2016 (13.5%), £20.95, corneyandbarrow.com. Crafted from unique local grapes, this silky rich white is one of France’s greatest hidden gems. A top gift for any wine lover, and beyond brilliant with lemon and rosemary roast chicken.
Party white: Sorso Fiano 2019 (13%), £6.75, Morrisons. Refreshing with a turbocharge of orangey fruit, this Italian ace is primed for your festive celebrations.
Kitchen table red: Viñalba Finca La 70 Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (14%), £9, Co-Op. Bold and beautiful, this winter warming red is a deserving award-winner. If cooking steaks, this is the wine to pour.
With mince pies: Bleasdale The Wise One Tawny (18%), £11.50, thewinesociety.com. Sweet and sumptuous, this is immense value for money. Serve it chilled for a taste of liquid Christmas.
Party red: Finest Valle de Colchagua Merlot 2019 (14.5%), £8 Tesco. Fab berry-scented red with stacks of free-flowing flavour, great grip and decent balance. A wine to wow for under a tenner.
Port: Finest LBV Port 2015 (20%), £11 Tesco. Sweet, sumptuous and lush, this is like sipping liquid plum jam layered with warming spice. Irresistible with stilton and a total bargain, too.
Cider: Sxollie Granny Smith Apple (4.5%), £2.10, Sainsbury’s. Wow! Only Granny Smith juice in here, no concentrate or added sugar, and the results are superb. Pass me a ham sandwich and I’m in heaven.
Digestif: Maury 1928 Solera Cask No 873 Les Vignerons de Maury (17%) 50cl, £19.95, bbr.com. Liquid demerara sugar, as silky and pure as prunes with thrilling zing, this is the ultimate contemplation wine. Spot-on for a festive digestif.
Craft beer: Beak Brewery Self-Portrait Pale Ale (4.5%), £4.60, beakbrewery.com. Bulging with tasty tropical refreshment, this craft beer is my go-to this season. Fab with cold cuts or turkey curry.
Rosé Champagne: Laurent-Perrier Rosé NV (12%), £62, Sainsbury’s. Bang on song right now – purity, vivacity, complexity and quality. Immense, iconic and delivers on all levels.
Cognac: Chevalier Cognac VS (40%), £15.49, Aldi. As at home in your glass as it is laced into brandy butter, this is a little bit of luxury without breaking the bank.
Bloody Mary: Bloody Drinks Bloody Classic (6.3%), £13 for four, bloodydrinks.co.uk. A cocktail in a can that tastes like the very best bar quality – incredible! The only thing you need in the fridge for the easiest, tastiest Bloody Mary on the planet.
Whisky: Tamdhu 12 Year Old (43%), £42.95, thewhiskyexchange.com. Matured in sherry casks for more than a decade, this blows me away with its cinnamon toast, candied orange and fruity biscuit brilliance – 100 per cent on my Christmas list.
Liqueur: M&S Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie Liqueur (15%), £12. Moreish, sweet and devilishly good, this is liquid luxury to indulge and delight in. No finer drop to sip alongside a box of chocolates.
Gin: Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz (37.8%), £35, Waitrose. Stand aside, sloe gin – this is delicious fun from Down Under using Shiraz grapes to beef out the booze.
Nonalcoholic: Jukes Cordialities Tasting Box, £38 for nine, jukescordialities.com. Finally! A balanced nonalcoholic alternative for wine lovers. My favourite is Jukes No 6 with its deep dark fruity splendour, but this tasting box is perfect to discover the range.
Cocktail: Tayer Palo Santo Gimlet (26.2%), £29.95, thewhiskyexchange.com. Rich, fruity and refreshing with a botanical twist, this pre-made cocktail and indeed the whole range from Tayer are as simple to pour as they are stunning to sip.
For Olly’s previous recommendations and Mail on Sunday EVENT columns, visit here.