If you’re looking to buy in some wine for Christmas, have you thought of being a bit adventurous and trying a different grape variety to the usual Chardonnay or Shiraz?
Among whites, the Riesling is a marvellous and sometimes overlooked choice that can make an aromatic and enjoyable aperitif or party wine. It also has one huge bonus in that it gives full satisfaction with a lower than usual alcohol level.
Modern Rieslings are produced in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa but the original home of the grape is Germany where Fritz Hasselbach, winemaker in the Rheinhessen region, has crafted his very fruity Fritz’s Riesling 2009, (RRP £8.99 at Majestic).With a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, this fun and palate-filling wine abounds with peach, green apple and lime.
The Viognier grape, once the preserve of a small and expensive wine growing area of the Rhone Valley, is now undergoing a rapid boom in popularity worldwide.
Golden coloured, this wine combines apricot, peach and citrus flavours to pack a solid punch that would be a good choice for parties; and its savoury richness also makes it a useful partner to Asian cuisine such as Thai green curry or sweet and sour dishes.
Alternatively, if you prefer to stay with your favourite varieties, Christmas provides a good excuse to try something just a little bit more special.
Thinking about reds; the barrel-matured Spanish delights of Rioja are already widely loved but you might consider upgrading a couple of steps to a Gran Reserva for the Yuletide table.
Berberana Viña Alarde Gran Reserva 2003, (RRP £10.99 at Majestic) is aged for three whole years in American oak, allowing this Tempranillo / Garnacha wine to deliver the kind of smooth old world grandeur that merits a special occasion.
The vanilla coated, deep berry fruit is soft and herby without being too heavy bodied. Give it at least an hour opening before the turkey in order for it to reveal the full extent of its Iberian charms.
Now I’m starting to get thirsty; I’d better get on with making my own choices soon as I don’t want to end up staring blankly at the wine shelves on Christmas Eve.