Cracking Christmas Wines

Choosing which wines to buy for the festive celebrations can be a challenge – so, Katie Gardner of Birmingham Wine School has done all the hard work for you by naming her top value-for-money picks

The festive period is a time of celebration, filled with family traditions, delicious food, and, of course, wonderful wines. Whether you’re toasting with a glass of bubbly while opening presents or sipping a rich, red by the roaring fire, there’s a perfect wine to complement every moment of your Christmas celebrations. This month we’re giving you some recommendations for the perfect Christmas wine for every occasion.

Let’s kick things off with the humble mince pie

One of my favourite festive treats served warm with a delicious glass of sweet sherry. Leave the Harvey’s Bristol Cream to your gran and instead opt for the sweet and sticky Pedro Ximenez. It’s a naturally sweet style of sherry which is rich and unctuous with flavours of raisins, walnuts and caramel – the perfect accompaniment to mince pies!

Wines to pair with classic Christmas canapés

You’re hosting the annual Christmas party with friends and family. The guests are invited, the decorations are in place and the canapés are ordered. So which wine to pair? Something sparkling to get the party started of course! You could stick to the classic choice of Champagne but how about some English sparkling wine instead?
Our homegrown wines have gained global recognition for their quality, and though this is often reflected in the price, you can find excellent options that won’t break the bank. Look supermarket own-brand versions, such as Morrisons The Best English Sparkling Brut Vintage. It’s a cracking price for a vintage wine and rumoured to be made by one of England’s top producers. Its refreshing character and fine bubbles will pair beautifully with most nibbles, from smoked salmon blinis, salty crisps and mini quiches.

The main event

It’s Christmas Day, you’ve been slaving away at the stove since dawn and are ready to tuck into a delicious feast. Turkey and all the trimmings is a versatile option when it comes to wine pairing. You could opt for a red or white (or indeed both!). A classic choice would be a rich, buttery Chardonnay. You could venture off the beaten track a little with a top quality, cool, coastal Californian version. With notes of ripe stone fruits and a subtle oak influence, Wild Boy Chardonnay from Au Bon Climat in Santa Barbara would do just nicely and the psychedelic label is a good talking point for the table.
The old pairing rules state white wine with white meat but by the time you’ve added some roasted root veg and lashings of gravy, a lighter-style red like Pinot Noir could be just the ticket. Burgundy is the home of Pinot Noir, and some of the lesser-known villages like Rully can offer decent value for money.

Christmas pud or cheese board?

You’ve finished dinner and it’s time for dessert. Christmas pudding arguably is boozy enough by itself but if you do want to enjoy a tipple with it, you need to match its richness and complexity. A tawny port is a fantastic choice, and Tesco Finest’s 10-Year-Old Tawny Port is an affordable and delicious option made by one of the top port producers. This fortified wine has extra alcohol added to it during the fermentation process and boasts a luscious blend of caramel, dried fruits and nuts which harmonise perfectly with the flavours of Christmas pud. Serve the port slightly chilled to enhance its vibrancy and contrast with the warm pudding’s sweetness.
If you’re more of a cheese lover, you could stick to the fortified theme and pair with port. I enjoy a late-bottled vintage style as a good all-rounder with different types of cheese. You could also consider a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Australia. The wine has plenty of acidity to contrast the fat of the cheese and the structured tannins are melted away by the saltiness.


Morrisons The Best English Sparkling Brut Vintage 2010 – Morrisons £19
An absolute steal for a wine which has 13 years of ageing. Lovely creamy brioche notes with a crisp, citrus finish. The perfect crowd-pleaser for parties.

Au Bon Climat Wild Boy Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, California, USA – Nickolls & Perks £36
Christmas is the time to push the boat out and sample some delicious top-flight wines. This is a Burgundian-inspired Chardonnay with a lovely balance of stone fruits and a touch of toasty oak. Terrific with turkey!

Joseph Drouhin Rully, Burgundy, France – Waitrose £21.99
Textbook Burgundian Pinot Noir. Soft and juicy with aromas of raspberries and strawberries and a smooth finish. Goes well with duck, turkey or goose.

Triana Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Jerez, Spain – £15.99 (mix six price) Majestic
This gorgeous dessert wine is packed full of flavour, with raisins, molasses figs and nuts. Great with a mince pie or simply drizzled over good quality vanilla ice cream. It’s the perfect festive treat!

Tesco Finest 10-Year-Old Tawny Port, Tesco £14.50
My favourite style of port, best served lightly chilled with a cheese board to graze on. This own-brand version is great value for money.

Birmingham Wine School is an independent wine education company that offers fun informal wine tasting events and Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses online, in Birmingham and Warwick. For more information contact Katie Gardner on 0121 270 7359, or visit