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New Year’s Eve? I’ve experienced every type there is. I’ve done the big parties that start with a dangerous ‘house cocktail’ and end with such a late taxi home that it’s almost time to get up.
I’ve done the civilised dinners with a small handful of friends. I’ve done the home delivery curry with a strong G&T, and I’ve even done the ‘nothing at all and in bed by 10pm’, which I think might be my favourite.
For me, the new year is about looking forward and starting as you mean to go on. With that in mind, I’d suggest trying some new drinks that could be enjoyed over the festive season and beyond.
Zero-alcohol drinks, for example, are becoming increasingly popular, not just for those who are driving or having a night off, but for those who want to enjoy the festivities while drinking less.
Happily, there have been some very good zero- and low- alcohol beer launches in 2019, which are a great addition to a gathering.
Lucky Saint Unfiltered Alcohol Free Lager is a step up; this very precise lager is made using pilsner malt and hallertau hops, then left unfiltered for extra body. It’s available from Sainsbury’s (£1.80 for 330ml bottle).
For those who like a richer, darker flavour, Harviestoun Wheesht is a 0.0% ABV dark ruby ale with notes of chocolate and roasted coffee. Available from Harvieston (£1.15 for 330ml bottle).
If you prefer spirits, Seedlip’s ready-to-drink ‘NOgroni’ is a bittersweet, non-alcoholic take on everyone’s favourite gin cocktail (£12 per two-serving bottle, seedlipdrinks.com).
There’s also San Pellegrino Sanbitter Rosso (£8.99 for six 100ml bottles from Ocado, £13.99 for 10 bottles from Amazon), a zero-alcohol aperitif that tastes somewhere between an aperol spritz and campari soda. It’s been around for decades but was not, until recently, easy to find in this country.
Of course, you don’t have to stick to alcohol-free drinks – there are plenty of trending wines to enjoy as 2020 begins. English wine is having a moment, and I love the elegant wines from upcoming Marlow-based producer Harrow & Hope. Its Brut Rosé 2015 England (£32, laithwaites.co.uk) is a sparkling pink that smells of summer berries.
As for still white wines, why not try a bit of a wild-card? Oliver Zeter Sauvignon Blanc Fumé 2017 (£23.99 from Novel Wines) is unexpected, but easy to drink and delicious. An oaked sauvignon blanc from Germany with crisp edges, a hint of smoke, hot grapefruit and dill, it’s gorgeous served with smoked fish and roasted beetroot, horseradish and watercress salad.
Finally, Roversi Barbaresco 2015 Italy (£7.99, Aldi) is a north Italian red with bite and a hairy chest, made from the nebbiolo grape that would be perfect served alongside sausages and lentils or a wintery onion tart. It’s part of Aldi’s new online-only range, catering for more aspirational wine drinkers.
So, with so many things to try, there’s no need to save all your best drinks for New Year’s Eve. Instead, unwind on 1 January with something new to see you into 2020.
This month I’m reading…
Sip: 100 gin cocktails with only 3 ingredients – available from Sipsmith (£15.99)
Gin experts Sipsmith will expand your cocktail repertoire with this handy book. It does as the title says (with only a tiny bit of cheating), so you can learn to make French 75s, gimlets, negronis and many more.
Taste the Difference Barossa Cabernet Merlot 2017 Australia – available from Sainsbury’s (£11)
Hints of cassis go with Tom Kerridge’s roast guinea fowl crown with leg ‘shepherd’s pie.’
Read more articles by Victoria Moore
12 Essential Christmas drinks
How wine has changed in 30 years
Why you should be drinking verdejo this summer
Swap your bottle for wine in a can
Why you should be drinking French malbec
Why rosé wine is the perfect drink for summer
Victoria Moore is an award-winning wine columnist and author. Her most recent book is the The Wine Dine Dictionary (£20, Granta).
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