More than any year before, this Christmas we look forward to the full-on party. The last thing we want is to be told that some of our Christmas favorites may not be available due to a shortage in HGV drivers or supply chain issues.
Stocking up on party necessities like Champagne, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Californian Zinfandel can be difficult. So concerned are the owners of brands including Laurent Perrier and Moet & Chandon, that 49 drinks industry bosses have written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps asking him to step up efforts to solve the problem.
Best, surely, to take pre-emptive action by adopting an adventurous approach and ditching your old favourites for alternatives that taste as good, cost the same or less — and will surprise your guests to boot!
From Lebanese reds to Japanese fizz, here’s our guide to the most stylish swaps for the party season.
GO TO FAR EAST TO SEE NEW FAVOURITE FIZZ
Sudi Pigott reveals her opinion on the various options available for taking preventive measures in case our Christmas favourites run out. Pictured: Morrisons The Best English Sparkling Brut
Champagne harvests have been affected by bad weather — they’re down an estimated 30 per cent — so shortages caused by transport issues this Christmas may well be the precursor to limited production next year, too. In other words, there’s never been a better time to find a new favourite fizz. Enjoy this to keep the champagne flowing. . .
Morrisons The Best English Sparkling Brut, £25, Morrisons
This English sparkling wine is a stunning example of vintage Champagne. The Champenois has only produced it for eight years. The nose is full of brioche and green apple aromas.5/5
Atago No Matsu ‘Waiting Love’ Sparkling Saké, £15.99, totneswine.com
Sudi said Atago No Matsu ‘Waiting Love’ Sparkling Saké (pictured) matches champagne’s clean, fine bubbles
Sparkling saké is dangerously drinkable. It matches champagne’s clean, fine bubbles thanks to a second fermentation in the bottle. It has an almost sweet taste, without the brassiness that many other proseccos have. It pairs well with sweet and savoury foods. 4.5/5
Chardonnay, particularly a white Burgundy, is synonymous with quality. It’s also a staple for entertaining at Christmas time.
On top of problems caused by transport and tariffs, however, Burgundian vineyards have also suffered from poor weather, which means it’s time to raise a glass to a different region.
This white wine is a great choice for those who enjoy a full-bodied, medium-rich white with a beautiful mineral finish. . .
Journey’s End Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay 2021 Stellenbosch South Africa, £8.99, Marks & Spencer
Sudi said Journey’s End Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay 2021 Stellenbosch South Africa (pictured) is deeply aromatic
It is deeply fragrant with grapefruit and peach leaves notes. The finish is round, almond-rich and mineral. This South African Chardonnay was aged for eight months in French oak. It has an extra resonance. 4/5
Specially Selected Cotes du Jura, £7.99, Aldi
Sudi said Specially Selected Cotes du Jura (pictured) is a stylish tipple, with intense peach and apricot aromas
Made from 100 per cent Chardonnay, this stylish tipple — from the mountainous French region east of Burgundy, which has been less affected by the poor weather — is rich and elegant, with intense peach and apricot aromas complemented by nutty and mineral notes. This is an excellent accompaniment to chicken, turkey and fish. 3/5
CHUCK THE CLOUDY BAY
There will be many guests who love the crisp, fresh-as-freshly-snow New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with its abundant amounts of citrus tang. Yet, transport issues apart, Cloudy Bay has become somewhat passé and pricey. Do not be afraid to try something new this year. . .
Broadbent Vinho Verde NV, £12.99, 9elmswines.co.uk
Sudi said Broadbent Vinho Verde NV (pictured) has a mellow taste with green apple and a touch of lychee and melon rind
The best Portuguese Vinho Verde can be refreshingly zesty with lots of orchard fruit — and this is really rather special. The colour is bright yellow with notes of gooseberry and passion fruit. To taste, it’s round and mellow with green apple and a touch of lychee and melon rind, as well as plenty of finesse and a gentle effervescence. It’ll surprise your guests with its sophistication. 4/5
Classics No. 30 Gruner Veltliner Weingut Rabi, £8.50, Marks & Spencer
Sudi said Classics No. It goes well with seafood
Austria’s foremost white grape variety makes a good change from Sauvignon blanc, offering a little more spice. Fresh citrus aromas are present, along with hints and white pepper. It also has excellent orchard and citrus flavours, as well as a clean, mineral finish. It goes well with seafood — so stock up on a bottle or two for the smoked salmon. 4.5/5
ROMANIAN ROMANIAN RED – RAISE A GLASS
People who love wine like Californian Zinfandel are drawn to its powerful, medium-full-bodied wines. This red is rich in red fruit flavors and has a lot of sweetness.
Zinfandel enthusiasts may have to look for alternatives because of weather factors and transportation issues that could cause supply instability. Instead, look for one of the latest kids on the block. . .
Blueprint Romanian Pinot Noir, £5.99, Waitrose
Sudi said Blueprint Romanian Pinot Noir (pictured) is an elegant offering, full of juicy red berry characteristics
Romanian wines currently have a lot of interest. The elegant, affordable price is another reason to be excited about Romanian wine. It is full of red berry flavors and has a slight savoury complexity and tannic bite. There are cherry and raspberry aromas on the palate and gentle sweetness at the end. It is a crowd pleaser and makes a great match with Stilton. 3/5
Specially Selected Lebanese Red, £7.99, Aldi
Sudi said Specially Selected Lebanese Red (pictured) has aromas of blackberry, cassis and black cherry
Deep crimson with aromas of blackberry, cassis and black cherry, this inexpensive Aldi wine — a surprise success for the supermarket — would stand up well to a rib of beef. 3.5/5
GEEK GOES GREEK TO GET A PRESTIGE POUCH
Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon mature Cabernet Sauvignon is expensive and synonymous with Christmas dinners and cheeses. There are many non-Gallic options to this prestige wine that may be easier to find.
Kokotos Estate Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot from Stamata, Attiki 2017, £27, maltbyandgreek.com
Sudi said Kokotos Estate Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot from Stamata, Attiki 2017 (pictured) is a complex bouquet of red fruits
This wine is truly a treasure trove with its rich, deep ruby red colour, complex aroma of red fruits, spices, and tobacco. It also tastes strong with a dark, chocolate-y aftertaste. This cheeseboard-friendly wine will not disappoint. 4/5
Found Pais, Chile, £9, Marks & Spencer
From the rediscovered Pais grape from Chile’s Southern Itata Valley, this easy-drinking, vivacious red, with aromas of black cherry and a hint of anise, is medium bodied with gently stewed plum on the palate and an undertow of spice. This wine packs an impressive finish and is great served with festive dishes. Enjoy! 3/5
Sudi said Found Pais, Chile (pictured) is an easy-drinking, vivacious red, with aromas of black cherry and a hint of anise