This is the time of year when people are looking to stock up on wines for the festive season, but with a bewildering array of wines to choose from on the supermarket shelves and in independent stores, what should we be buying? There are also lots of special offers on wines at this time of year. However, donít be tempted to buy a case of wine just because it is cheap. Buy one bottle first and taste it before deciding whether or not to buy a whole case. Wine merchants will often let you sample a wine on the premises before you commit to buying and will also make recommendations.
It is a good idea to have a selection of versatile wines for any occasion and that will go well with snacks and nibbles. Go for light crisp white wines. Pinot Grigio has become hugely popular in recent years and is being produced by an increasing number of countries. Try a South African variety for citrus fruit flavours and a fresh lively finish. Chardonnay is still favoured by many people, but avoid the oaked variety as the vanilla notes may clash with some foods. New World Chardonnays in particular can be very oaky and buttery. Opt instead for an unoaked variety, which will be much lighter and fresher on the palette. Sauvignon Blanc is another good option, along with Chablis or Sancerre.
For versatile reds, go for young New World wines. Particularly good all-round grape varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz (or blends of these varieties).
If you want to add a bit more sparkle to an occasion, you donít need to spend a lot of money on champagne. There are many decent and reasonably priced sparkling wines. There has also been an increase in the popularity of Prosecco, a dry sparkling wine from the Veneto region of Italy characterised by its slightly bitter aftertaste. It can also be used in cocktails instead of champagne.
As for what to serve with the Christmas turkey depends on your preference for red, dry white or slightly sweeter wines. Pinot Noir contains very little tannin and wonít overpower the taste of the meal. Other good red wine options include young fruity wines such as Beaujolais. For dry white wines, go for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis. If you prefer sweeter wines, White Zinfandel or German wines such as Riesling are good choices. If you are having a game bird such as goose or duck, go for a more full-bodied wine such as a Shiraz or a good claret.
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Fiona Muller has been writing for over 20 years. She is a qualified journalist and has worked in food and drink writing for the last few years. christmas wine More information can be found at www.laithwaites.co.uk
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