Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Christmas wine recommendations

I was recently invited by Sainsbury's to their Winter Wine Tasting event at the Oxo Tower.  Result right?

Ummm. Well yes, but as soon as I entered the room housing what looked to me like the country's biggest array of bottles I realised I was somewhat out of my depth.  There were lots of very professional people purposefully striding up and down the rows of bottles.  The room was dotted with huge statuesque metal spittoons and there was much sniffing, swilling and spitting.

Ummm.  In my humble opinion it's a waste and frankly quite rude to spit out perfectly good wine so it was clear I'd need some guidance here before I got horribly drunk.

I grabbed one of the very lovely buyers who took me under her wing, told me the insider tips for the best tipples, and taught me a whole lot in the process.

Now, I like a bottle glass of wine as much as the next person, but I know what I like and I like what I know. So it's really handy that Sainsbury's wines have a colour coded label flash on the bottle so you can easily identify them by type. You can then safely invest in a different grape from the same group, fairly certain that you'll like that also.

Anyhow, without further ado, here's the low-down on the best* wines to add to your basket this Christmas.


1. Taste the Difference Chablis 2012 (£10.49)

Won IWC - Bronze and IWSC - Silver in 2013. Available now in 599 stores.

Simple, elegant with fresh, crisp, citrus fruits.

2. Winemaker's Selection by Sainsbury's South African Chenin Chardonnay 2013 (£5.99)

New, available from 15th November in 550 stores - exclusive.

Soft and fruity.  Ripe exotic fruit flavours and grassy aromas.

3. Seifried Estate Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (£9.00)

Aromatic and fresh Sauvignon Blanc flavours.

4. Leasingham Magnus Clare Valley, Reisling 2009 (£9.79)

Fresh, floral, lemon and apple butter bouquet.  Fresh and bright.

Sparkling and Champagne

5. Sainsbury's Blanc de Noirs Brut NV (£21.99)

Won IWC-Gold, IWCS-Silver and Decanter-Silver in 2013

Rich; biscuity and complex. (sounds like a guy I once knew)

6. Taste the Difference English Sparkling Brut 2007 (£19.99)

Produced in Surrey.

Fresh; elegant; crisp apples.


7. Taste the Difference Cotes du Rhone-Villages 2012 (£6.99)

Aromas of red fruit, sweet cherry ad spice.  Generous, rich peppery palate and soft velvety tannins.

8. Winemaker's Selection by Sainsbury's Chianti DOCG 2012 (£5.69)

Won IWC-Bronze; IWSC-Silver and Decanter-Bronze in 2013.

Smooth and mellow.  Ripe cherry, soft blackberry flavours, velvety tannins ad a fresh acidity.

9. Taste the Difference Douro 2011 (£8.49)

Won IWC_Bronze; IWSC-Silver and Decanter-Commended in 2013

Dessert and Fortified:

10. Taste the Difference 12 Year Old Sweet Pedro Ximenez 50cl (£7.99)

Won IWC-Gold; IWSC-Gold; Decanter-Gold and Sweet Sherry under £15 Trophy in 2013.

Dark, mahogany sherry, lusciously sweet and syrupy with intense caramel and prune flavours.

11. Grahams 10 Year Old Tawny Port NV, Douro Valley (£21.20)

Won Decanter-Bronze 2013.

Deep, rich tawny style with nutty aromas, combined with sweet notes of honey and figs.  Mellow, complex raisin and fig flavours with a luscious fruit and caramel-flavour finish.

12. Taste the Difference Vintage Port 1999, Douro Valley (£24.99)

Concentrated black cherries, plums and wild Douro berries.  Intense, fine grained tannins with full bodies structure.

*All these wines were suggested and recommended to me, and thoroughly tested and approved by me.  I enjoyed them all, but extra special mention has to go to the Blanc de Noirs fizz and the Sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry which I immediately went out and bought several bottles of.  It's pure nectar and is now my current drink of choice.  And before you call me an old lady, sherry is where it's at I'll have you know, it's what all the cool kids are drinking.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the wine tasting event with Sainsbury's, but went at my own expense, with no obligation to write about my experience.


  1. Oooh great timing! Always handy to have some wine recommendations! We are rubbish at changing our regular tipple!

    1. It's easy to get stuck in a rut isn't it, just picking the same bottle.

  2. I'm terrible when it comes to choosing wine, so this is a great post to come back to for ideas. I don't drink that often but when I do, wine is usually my second choice after Pimms! Great post!

    1. Thanks Stacey, hope you find some useful pointers. The colour-coded flashes on their own bottles is really helpful.

  3. It is a good time of year for wine drinking and it will help with my choices for teacher presents - thank you.

    1. Ahh good point, I think every teacher deserves a good bottle of wine!

  4. The English sparkling Brut sounds delicious! xx

    1. It's lovely to have a home-grown choice. It had a very strong apple flavour, very fresh and crisp, for me I think I'd prefer it in the summer for that reason and go for the Blanc de Noirs for Christmas.

  5. I like the sound of all of those... I am a bit of wine fiend, which is quite ironic considering we live in the land of beer currently! Someone once told me that any wine from the ribera del deuro region is usually good, so it would be interesting to try that port... (makes note to ask my Mum to smuggle a bottle over!) :D

    1. The port was delicious - very Christmassy, there's a bottle of that going in my trolley next time too!

  6. ooooh, loved reading this. We are going to do wine tasting for my birthday party this year. It's great to get some recommendations.

    1. Oh that sounds like fun Emma. Will you be a spitter though, that's the big question!

  7. I am loving the colour coding, I am definitely a fresh and delicate flower, I like chablis and sauvignon. Husband likes soft and fruity Chardonnay, on honeymoon an expert told us we could meet in the middle with a Reisling, which we often do. So I think 1-4 should cover it! Sounds like a fun evening Liz :)

  8. You are so lucky!!!! I reckon I could drink them all - no spitting though x

  9. Very useful Liz personally dont drink so never know what to buy!