IT’S the time of year when your drinks dreams can come true - or they will if you follow the Top Tipple guide to a merry Christmas.
We may be cutting corners for the rest of the year but come yuletide it’s good to have a treat.
So here’s our guide to enjoying your favourite drop over the coming weeks...
First we have The King and Queen Of Christmas - Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon and Villa Maria Sauvignion Blanc.
The Chilean red is a bit pricey but if you really want to push the boat out it is not a risk at all. Rich, deep and beautifully rounded the Errazuriz is powerful enough to go with the richest foods but has the subtlety to be sipped on its own as you indulge in a little partying or Christmas vegetating. Absolutely stonking wine - £11.99 from Waitrose.
Regular readers will be familiar with the classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Villa Maria. It’s just how white wine should taste. Fruity, clean and beautifully balanced this cream of the New Zealand crop is currently £3 off at Tesco making it the bargain of the season at £6.99. With hints of gooseberry and fresh cut grass it sings of summer and will cut through some of that Christmas stodge perfectly.
For those chasing the party thrills there’s no shortage of bargain bubbles out there if you’re not hung up on the Champagne label.
Try Wolf Blass Yellow Label Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling Brut, Australia (£12.99, Tesco). The pinot noir grape adds a touch of Old World elegance and the chardonnay ensures a fresh, fruity fizz.
Something different? Crabbies have re-invented alcoholic ginger beer and for Christmas they have produced a spiced orange variety that hits the spot. Fruity and with a hint of spice, the kick of ginger still provides a thirst-quenching freshness. Available in most supermarkets from around £1.90 - and with deals on four packs in some outlets.
If that doesn’t do it for you how about Kopparberg cider with cranberries and cinnamon?
Another festive combination that works a treat. Not over-strong on the cinnamon flavour but a subtle hint that makes the experience dedcidedly seasonal at Morrison’s for around £2.
If you want to get down to the real stuff Beefeater’s London Dry Gin festive gift box has been designed with cocktail lovers in mind. The packaging features a code which links to an exclusive online Gin and Tales seasonal recipe, for more information, visit www.ginandtales.com. Beefeater London Dry Gin is £17.99 for a 70cl bottle.
Vodka’s big name Smirnoff’s stylish white and red neoprene sleeve keeps the contents ice cold, and there’s an illustrated happy hour menu tucked inside. Smirnoff Limited Edition pack, £14.79, 70cl, from Tesco.
For that authentic Christmas taste try The Glenlivet 12 Year Old single malt whisky (reduced to £20 for 70cl, Tesco). Smooth and delicate with toffee and caramel flavours, and a chocolatey, rich sweetness on the finish. Great value at £20 if you can catch the offer.
And don’t forget grannie. For that seasonal sherry try Fletcher’s Cream Sherry a real bargain at £4.39 from Aldi. It’s Sweet with a multi-layered flavours of fruit, spice and nuts.
Pass the port - Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage 2004, £9.69, reduced from 12.99, at Waitrose until January 4. Lush and slightly sweeter than other well-known shippers this is deep, gutsy, well-balanced premium ruby with plenty of fruit for your money. Exceedingly slurpable.
When it comes to beer we are truly spoilt for choice with bottle conditioned ales making big inroads into the market. Here’s a couple of locals to get you started...
Old Moor Porter from the Acorn Brewery in Barnsley is dark and deep. “It tastes like flowers and soot dad”, said my youngest after a sneaky sip at home. You know what, it does – but in a very good way. The earthy richness combines with subtle aromas and flavours to make it the perfect Christmas beer. From Waitrose, prices vary.
Another local is Wild Swan White Gold Pale Ale from Thornbridge Brewery in Derbyshire. Golden, punchy beer with a hint of herb and a subtle spiciness. Not over-powerful like some real ales, it’s nicely sharp and refreshing. From Waitrose, prices vary.