Resistance is futile . . . Christmas and all its associated pleasures (and occasional frustrations) are just around the corner.
Wine racks are, I expect, being stocked in readiness and I thought it might be an idea to identify some occasion appropriate wines to see you through the fun and fray.
I’m going to start by looking at ‘all-rounders’; wines that you can serve to the masses at parties, which are great ‘bring a bottle’ and that will not blow the budget.
First pick is the Canapi Grillo 2010, Sicily (£6.49 Stevens Garnier, 47 West Way, Oxford 01865 263303). Grillo is native to Sicily and the wine is as sunny and bright as you might expect — think juicy peaches and nectarines. Domaine Madeville Viognier 2010 (£6.49, Marks & Spencer) is a southern French Viognier and I think it’s a rather good winter white. The aromas are very much apricot and peach and the palate has both weight and warmth. It does come in at 13.5% so if you’re serving it at a party, make sure there are a few hors d’oeuvres to keep it company.
From Chile comes Emiliana’s Adobe Gewurztraminer 2011 (£7.49 www.vintageroots.co.uk) that has more than a whiff of the Christmas about it. There’s a touch of spice, lychee and candied citrus fruits. Not bad with a bite-sized toasts with a little pâté.
With the whites the objective is to keep the acidity refreshing but not too exacting whilst the reds need to have supple tannins and a fruit-forward bouquet.
Piedmont Barbera 2010 (£6.99, Marks & Spencer) is one of those wines that I’ve drunk a fair amount of because it went through a period of being included in the M&S ‘Dine in for £10’ offers that my Mum has enthusiastically embraced. The wine, with its pretty purple label clearly grabbed her attention! It’s a good choice; there’s a lovely brightness to the ripe cherry fruit and it’s not heavy on the alcohol. Well done Mum. Santa Julia Organica Bonarda / Sangiovese 2010 (£5.69 www.waitrose wine.com) is a cracking Argentine red with charming red berry fruits and a really juicy texture. Pretty hard to beat at the price and it’s organic too.
Pleno Tinto Tempranillo 2010 (£5.99 www.shjones.com) is, as S H Jones describe it ‘an inexpensive crowd pleaser’ and whilst I don’t disagree I think this rather undersells it — it’s no mean feat to deliver a wine with brightness and balance at that sort of price.
Finding a sparkling at under £8 is a challenge.
Happily — and truthfully — I don’t consider Champagne to be an all-rounder drink, much better is a fresh, lightly pétillant Prosecco. Try the Giol Perla Frizzante (£7.50 www.vintageroots.co.uk) that is as deliciously quaffable as any I’ve tried at that price.