Seasonal tipples to toast Christmas and the New Year ahead…

Having sipped through hundreds of bottles at the capital’s myriad autumnal tastings – and ever keen to spot a bargain – our Drinks Editor James Viner is dreaming of an appetising red wine Christmas. Here are six of his top seasonal picks that won’t break the bank – and a fab fizz to see in 2023…


Since it’s the last edition of the year and nearly time to pop corks and raise a glass to 2023, I am highlighting some great value drinking reds and also a wallet-friendly bottle-aged sparkling wine from each retailer for celebrating New Year’s Eve. Additionally, I highly recommend both Waitrose’s Boschendal Brut NV – down from £16.99 to £10 until 1 January – and Aldi’s ever-reliable Specially Selected Crémant du Jura 2019 (£8.99). Both are outrageously good value for money and will certainly get any party started.

I wish you the cheeriest of celebrations and a corking festive season. See you next year… Santé!


1)    Must-try, bargain basement, medium-bodied Lidl red Corte alle Mura Chianti Riserva 2019, Tuscany, Italy (13%, Lidl, £5.99)

With subtle, enticing flavours of baking spice, nutmeg, forest fruits, dried cherries, potpourri and balsamic held within a silken web of fine tannins, this Chianti Riserva is a great buy for weeknight drinking in the here and now. Its sprightly, food-friendly acidity makes it a marvel with spag bol or pizza Margherita.

Part of Lidl’s much-improved core range. A really good wine at a rock-bottom price from one of the UK’s two best German discount supermarkets. Goes down easily. Uncomplicated, but satisfying. Also: Sparkling wine choice for NYE from Lidl: Crémant de Loire Brut NV, Loire, France (£8.99)


 2)    The Christmas house red. Tesco Finest Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2019, Italy (13.5%, Tesco, £7 or £6 Clubcard price: buy 6+ bottles and save 25% on the Clubcard price until January 1)

Cheap as chips, rich and rather fleshy own-label red from the hills of Italy’s central eastern coast (three-quarters of Abruzzo’s vineyards are over 610m/2,000ft above sea level), with lashings of dark plum and juicy red cherry fruit. Impossible to beat the value offered here when using your Tesco Clubcard to buy six or more selected bottles (25% off £6) through to New Year’s Day: just £4.50 a bottle! A deserved winner of the Great Value Red Wine under £8 Trophy at this year’s International Wine Challenge. Long live the fruit. A fabulous, lightly extracted glou glou (as the French might say) — or glug, glug — red to drink with or without food (try it with pasta in a meat sauce), this gem offers effusive drinkability and easy-going charm. Buy it by the case!Also: Sparkling wine choice for NYE from Tesco: Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne NV, France (£15, £13 Clubcard price: buy 6+ bottles and save 25% on the Clubcard price until January 1)


 3)    Vibrant, top-value French red from a hilly zone near Béziers Les Hauts de Saint Martin 2020, Saint-Chinian, Languedoc, France (13%, Co-op, £9)

This is a very smart and hearty blend of Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah from a small, sunny and craggy appellation between Minervois and Faugères in France’s sprawling Languedoc. All figs, herbs and mulberries, with a trace of smoke, it is a great accompaniment for heavily-herbed roast leg of lamb, cassoulet, lamb curry and slow-cooked venison casserole. Give it a swish and watch it unfurl. Plenty to enjoy here. And a gold-plated must-sip sub
£10 bargain too. Great vibrant drinking! Bring it on before prices rise once again. Also: Must-try Champagne for NYE from Co-op:

Les Pionniers Vintage Champagne 2013, France (£27)


4)   Canny Christmas Claret Château La Gravière 2018, Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France (14%, The Wine Society, £10.50)

Top-value, really well-made, Merlot-forward, savoury claret from an affordable appellation based around the town of Bourg, just north of the city of Bordeaux on the northern bank of the Dordogne River, this is a well-deserved ‘Wine Champion’ 2022 from the ever-excellent Wine Society. Wonderful drinking and thoroughly impressive at the price. I would be delighted to pour this for lunch on the big day itself. £40 buys life membership and £20 off the first order at The Wine Society – a great Christmas gift for wine connoisseurs! Delicious.

Also: Sparkling wine choice for NYE from The Wine Society Assmannshauser Rosé Brut Nature, Künstler 2018, Rheingau, Germany (£24.50)


5)    From the hills of Limoux, a Pinot Noir to give many sub-£20 red Burgundies a run for their money… Domaine Begude, Esprit Pinot Noir 2020, Haute Vallée de l’Aude, France (13%, Majestic, £15.99 mix six)

Here’s a splendid festive swig from a Languedoc estate with pedigree and pristine, organic, cooler Pinot Noir vineyards at a high altitude (305m/1000ft). Full of character, it is medium-bodied, long, lively and energetic, with notes of red and black fruits, undergrowth, briar and a little spice. There’s a freshness, too. All in all, it’s a nigh-on perfect illustration of varietal character with filigree tannins in sync with lively acidity that is tailor-made for festive turkey with sweetish trimmings, duck, goose, glazed ham, butterflied lamb and roast beef. A super convincing French alternative to expensive red burgundy (and dangerously drinkable!). Finishes very long and too good to spit! Watch out for the 2021 too. Also: Sparkling wine choice for NYE from Majestic: Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2017/18, South Africa (£16.99 mix six)


6)    South Australian claret-taste-alike Cabernet Sauvignon. Wynns Coonawarra Estate ‘The Siding’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2020, Coonawarra, Australia (13.5%, Tesco, £15 or £12 Clubcard price: buy 6+ bottles and save 25% on the Clubcard price until January 1)

Located around 100km from the coast in the far south-east of the state of arid South Australia, isolated Coonawarra makes some of Australia’s best Cabernet Sauvignon on its famous, red, clay-over-limestone ‘Terra Rossa’ soils. It has a moderate maritime-influenced climate which is quite like Bordeaux’s if a little drier and warmer in the growing season. Privileged to possess the longest-established vineyards in the region and originally planted by visionary pioneer John Riddoch circa 1891, Wynns Coonawarra Estate (established in 1897 and now, like Penfolds, a significant part of Aussie wine titan Treasury Wine Estates) still inhabits the fabled triple-gabled winery the Scotsman built on Memorial Drive.

Anyone tucking into this mellifluous, dark-fruited, cedar-scented, brambly, minty and eucalyptus-tinged Cabernet Sauvignon will have a happy time over the festivities. Classic Coonawarra Cabernet … classy to the end with finely-tempered tannins. An unpretentious decant will energise and release its beauty this Christmas.

Great with festive lamb or roast beef. Get it on the £12 Clubcard price, especially when you can take advantage of the additional saving of 25% off when purchasing six or more selected bottles of wine (offer valid through to 1 January).

Happy holidays! Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter