Looking for the perfect Christmas bottle of something special? Our wine editor Victoria Moore tells us what she'd love to find under the tree
I’m excited about my Christmas wine. Not the bottles I’ve put aside for the turkey lunch, or the Boxing Day free-for-all, or even for New Year’s Eve.
The best Christmas wines are never the big-occasion bottles, or the ones that have been planned and budgeted for catering purposes (and, in some cases, maybe for awkward relative sedation). They're what I like to think of as The Stash: the wines – or wine, because often it’s just one bottle – that you buy at exactly the point when you think you have all you need, and that you pick for pure pleasure alone.
We do actually have one Stash-worthy planned bottle in our house, and that’s champagne. My dad is anosmic – he has no sense of smell – mum can’t drink more than one and a half glasses without going into orbit, and for the past four years, for child-related reasons, I or my sister-in-law – or both of us – have been on thimblefuls only. So the Christmas Day glass of fizz is the only wine anyone really cares about, which means it needs to be good.
The top five
I have my eye on the majestic Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV (£42, laithwaites.co.uk). The Heidsieck champagnes are a secret that wine people like to keep to themselves. A good red is an essential part of The Stash.
I like festive reds to be rich, but with savoury flavours too. Wines from the southern Rhône always carry some of the heat of a warm sun, bringing wafts of dried herbs like a summer breeze. I love this gigondas, which also tastes of red confit fruits: Clos La Grande Boissiere Gigondas 2014 (£17.99, most Waitrose branches and waitrosecellar.com).
Another glorious red is Fuligni Rosso di Montalcino 2013 (£22.50, Lea & Sandeman). It comes from the medieval Italian hill town of Montalcino in Tuscany and is reminiscent of sour cherries, polished antique wood and old leather. If that sounds odd, the wine’s not.
Ideally I’ll also have a bottle of port on the go. Quinta do Noval LBV 2009 (£24, Oddbins) is so good that I think of it as a miniature vintage port, but one you can have for a fraction of the price. The grapes come from the ruggedly beautiful terraces of the Douro and are still trodden by foot. It’s unfiltered and you can taste the wilderness in every deep sip.
Finally, if I’ve overspent so badly in the run-up to Christmas that not even one of these is a possibility, I hope I will still be able to afford a bottle of sherry: one of the most underrated wines in the world, and therefore also the best value. An icily-cold glass of Waitrose’s Solera Jerezana Fino del Puerto Lustau Sherry NV Spain (£9.99) will fit almost any Stash moment. It smells of salty sea air, freshly baked sourdough and iodine. I will drink it neat and also mixed with tonic. Merry Christmas.
What are your favourite Christmas tipples? Let us know in the comments below...