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Xmas Wine Tips #2 - For Sipping

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Xmas Wine Tips #2 - For Sipping

Tristan Darby

Christmas is easily my favourite time of year, and a golden opportunity to loosen the belt a notch (or three), slap on the seasonal Sinatra and kick back with my nearest and dearest for a marathon of thanksgiving, enjoyment and over-indulgence.

But as much as the season and food choices will dictate the need for us to stock up on more robust 'winter' wines, with all that richness and indulgence it's a good idea to have a few bottles in that are perfect for lighter bites and simple sipping.

Scroll down to take a peek at the wines I think you'll enjoy, in a few different styles and price points to suit all palates and purses. Enjoy!


Vidigal, Artolas Branco 2015

Vidigal, Lisboa, Portugal
£7.50 at
Great Western Wine

A quirky wine both inside and outside the bottle, this wine is a great aperitif and the ideal wine to have on hand as an antidote to the over-indulgence of the night/day before. Perfect to get a party started!

Light, bright, lively, fresh, mineral and dry without too much acidity. There's exotic fruit with an elegant floral touch to the nose, and bags of tropical fruit and citrus in the mouth making this wine splendidly easy to drink without lacking character.

Domaine de Pierre, Sauvignon de Touraine 2015

Domaine de Pierre, Touraine, Loire, France
 £10.75 at Great Western Wine

Step aside, Sancerre and move over, Marlborough!

Sitting somewhere between the two styles, and offering a great balance between concentrated flavours, herbaceous freshness and refreshing acidity, Domaine de Pierre's delicious Loire Sauvignon Blanc delivers oodles of flavour and character at a great price point.

Great with Goats Cheese and plenty of character to stand up to poached or smoked salmon, cold meats and canapes.

Fantastically floral and herbaceous nose with green pepper, elder and nettle. Round and textured in the mouth with refreshing citrus, savoury herbal touches and a long satisfying finish. Grown up Touraine Sauvignon. Worth every penny.

Trimbach, Pinot Blanc 2015

F.E. Trimbach, Alsace, France
£11.95 at
Great Western Wine

I love Trimbach, and this wine is a perennial favourite of mine.

Supple, easy, elegant and very drinkable on its own, it's also cracking alongside cold white meat, shellfish and light starters. Whenever I serve this at tastings it's a real crowd-pleaser, and the sort of wine I could drink all day. I'll be enjoying a bottle or two (ok, maybe three) this Christmas!

Beautifully made Pinot Blanc at a great price point. An inviting floral nose then quite full on the palate, but soft, silky and elegant. Stonefruit and apple flavours with a touch of lemony citrus and minerality to refresh and drive the finish. 

Nicola Bergaglio, 'Minia' Gavi di Gavi 2015

Nicola Bergaglio, Piedmonte, Italy
£12.95 at Great Western Wine

I love a good Gavi, especially at Christmas, and Minia from Nicola Bergaglio is one of my absolute favourites.  Super sipping with Salmon and I'll also be tucking into this with a lovely lactic and lemony Gorwydd Caerphilly from Pong cheese.

Splendidly fresh and drinkable on its own, sitting somewhere in style between Chablis and a good Sauvignon Blanc, there's classic crisp Gavi minerality here to counter the wine's weight and texture and help deliver its mouthwatering uber-freshness.

Light lime blossom and green fruits on the nose. Crisp, dry but quite weighty and mouth filling at the same time. Flavours of ripe pears and an almost peachy richness are balanced with a mouthwatering lemon and lime citrus fruit character and a delicious long mineral finish. Seriously stylish sipping!

Sainte Marguerite, Grande Reserve Cru Classe 2015

Chateau Sainte Marguerite, Provence, France
£16.95 at Great Western Wine

'Provence Rose? Isn't that a summer wine?' I hear you cry. Well, yes! But it's great to have a weightier more grown up one like this to hand at Christmas.

It sits almost exactly in the middle of red and white wine in style, giving it an unbeatable versatility with food. Plus it's a serious and delicious wine in its own right, with much more depth of flavour and complexity than you might think for such a pale rose.

This will go with everything from Canapes, smoked salmon, fish starters, pate and cheese to cold meats, cured meat, hams and posh tartlets. A must-buy wine for xmas!

Strawberries, raspberries and floral hints on the nose. Ripe fleshy fruits in the mouth. Fresh but full, complex but elegant, mineral and long.

TIP: Don't serve this too cold (ideally 8*C) to get the full flavour!

Les Mougeottes, Pinot Noir Pays d'Oc 2015

Les Mougeottes, Languedoc, France
£8.95 (Xmas offer - usually £9.95) at Great Western Wine

Pinot Noir drinkers will be aware that there's a usually higher price tag for decent Pinot. Not in this case. Sure, it's not the most complex of wines Pinot can produce, but for under a tenner (£8.95 at the moment!), this is really good.

A fruity floral nose, just a touch of oak, soft, smooth, fruity and flavoursome. It's a delight to sip on its own and, like the rose, will be just brilliant with a broad range of Christmas foods, especially poached or roasted salmon, soft creamy cheese and cold white meats.

(You can even lightly chill this in the fridge for 10 minutes if you like, for a super refreshing and fruity palate-lifting quencher).

Barbi, Brusco dei Barbei 2015

Fattoria dei Barbei, Tuscany, Italy
£12.50 at Great Western Wine

Utterly delicious 100% Sangiovese wine from Tuscany, without the price attached to Brunello or Chianti, and delivering great value with every sip.

I love the softness of this wine, and it's the winning combination of seductive savoury herbs, dark cherry fruit and a whisp of earthy spice that keeps you coming back for more (and more). 

If you're looking for something to go with your boxing day cold cuts, cheese and charcuterie (esp. wild boar salami!) this fits the bill splendidly.

Bogle, Merlot 2014

Bogle Estate, California, USA
£12.95 at Great Western Wine

I'm a big fan of Bogle, and I've been championing the Bogle Merlot for a number of years now. It always proves popular whatever the crowd, and the 2014 is one of the best yet.

Soft, fruity and complex, but with a smattering of tannins and warming spicy oak, this is a great wine for the cheeseboard and cold red meats. But with a balanced and refreshing finish, it's perfect seasonal sipping wine if you're looking for a red with a bit more flesh on the bone.

This wine boasts a deliciously complex but harmonious blend of blueberries, blackberries, plum jam, cocoa, and smokey spice. There's some chunky tannin on the finish, but not overbearing or intrusive. It'll pay to be patient if you can get this open for an hour before you tuck in. Christmas in a glass!