The holiday season often means indulging in delicious drinks, most of which tend to be of the grape variety. However, for the average shopper, picking the right wine can be harder than it looks.
In an effort to impress our friends and family this year, we went to Fenwick Newcastle's Assistant Wine Buyer, Fiona McLain, for some much-needed help. Previously a sommelier with experience working in wine retail, Fiona's top selections of the season from the store's Wine Shop are sure to give you the perfect bottle for every occasion that might come your way...
For after work drinks
"A classic Champagne cocktail is always a great celebratory choice! Or visit our wine bar Fuego and go for The Churchill – a delicious blend of Churchill’s White Port and Fever-Tree tonic. This White Port is one of the finest on the market – aged for 10 years (compared to a lot which only age 2-4 years) it is a full-flavoured, rich Port with aromas of raisins and nuts making it a great festive time tipple."
For the perfect winter warmer
"The beautifully packaged bags of specially blended spices from the Old Hamlet Spice Company, available for £3.95 in the Christmas department at Fenwick Newcastle, make perfect gifts but are also great for saving time if you’re having a gathering. Simply select the flavour (Mulled Wine, Whisky Toddy, Spiced Cider or Spiced Apple for designated drivers and children), add wine (or whisky or cider) and heat. We currently have a selection of Chilean wines on offer for £5.49 or 2 for £10, which make for a great mulling wine as they are smooth and easy to drink but well concentrated so they hold up the flavour well against the spices."
For something light on Christmas Eve
"Champagne is always a popular choice, but why not try something new and opt for an English sparkling wine? Our favourite is Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvee, £32 - made in the traditional Champagne method and using the same grapes, this elegant sparkling wine has won many awards and blind tastes against Champagne, and is a great talking point with guests. It's wonderful with smoked salmon blinis with a touch of horse radish crème."
For Christmas Day...
...to sip during the day
"Go for Prosecco – our magnums of Prosecco are the perfect party centre piece. Try mixing with the Edinburgh Gin Raspberry Gin Liqueur for a modern take on a Kir Royal."
...to pair with turkey and all the trimmings
"A white Burgundy is a classic wine to drink with Christmas dinner. Our top pick from the Food Hall is the Domaine Larue Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 'La Garenne' Saint-Aubin, £39.95. This Premier Cru Chardonnay is rich, complex and the perfect partner to roasted poultry. If you’re not a fan of Chardonnay, opt for the ‘Marina Cvetic’ Reserve Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, £27.50, from renowned winery Masciarelli, an oak aged Trebbiano that displays great depth meaning it will match the weight of the roast well. It also displays a slight honeyed note which means it goes well with a glazed ham.
"For a red, go for something lighter and younger, as turkey has a low amount of body fat which means the wine needs less tannin so it doesn’t appear too harsh against the meat. Try young claret such as our Chateau Leon Premiere Cotes De Bordeaux, £11.99, or try a light and spicy red from Spain – Matsu’s ‘El Picaro’ Tempranillo, £10.99, a biodynamically produced wine with a smooth, silky tannin, it is a soft and easy drinking choice."
...to pair with fish
"If you prefer your wines on the crisp side or are opting for a fish-based feast, try the Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, £16.99. Kevin Judd, the former wine maker of Cloudy Bay set up this company in 2009 with a focus on producing exceptional quality wines and this wine does not disappoint. Produced from select grapes grown in the prime vineyard sites, this is a beautifully elegant, aromatic and well balanced wine - perfect with the herb flavours in stuffing due to the aromatic nature of Sauvignon Blanc. It is also wonderful with smoked salmon."
...to pair with game
"Pinot Noir is a great choice for pairing with goose, duck or venison. Our Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir is a great choice – very easy drinking and great value at just £12.99. If you prefer white our Ayler Kupp Riesling Spatlese from Saar in Germany, £14.99, has medium sweetness and crisp acidity, meaning it's a great choice as they balance out the oiliness of the dish."
...to pair with nut roast
"A Chilean Merlot is a great choice and we would look no further that the Cousino-Macul Reserva Merlot, £10.99. A soft, easy drinking and superbly elegant wine, it displays classic black fruit notes and a hint of spice."
...to enjoy with dessert
"Bodegas Cesar Florido Cruz del Mar Cream, £7.99, is a blend of Olorosso and Moscatel that is a very clean, elegant and versatile sherry. It's wonderful with both trifle and Christmas pudding. This old family firm was founded in 1887 and is one of the oldest surviving bodegas in Chipiona. It's known for producing exceptional quality sherries from their estate grown grapes."
For New Year's Eve
"For me it always has to be Champagne. Champagne House Louis Roederer, responsible for the famous Cristal Champagne, is the perfect choice. We stock a wide range of their Champagnes and their Non-Vintage Brut Premier is a great choice. Roederer age their NV for much longer than the legal requirement, meaning you get a much more complex champagne, more like a vintage style, for a fraction of the price. The magnums make for great sharing bottles."
Deal on wine: 5% discount on a case of six; 10% discount per case of 12 with free home delivery*
*in a 50mile radius. Minimum spend £50.