No Christmas Day is complete without something sparkling to start the celebrations and when it comes to the lunch our Christmas table always ends with a bottle of something sweet too, the perfect way to round off the meal.
So here are some suggestions for festive fizz and dessert wines to add to the occasion.
It’s worth having a few bottles of good value sparkling wines in the fridge. You never know who may drop by and they also make a more reasonable base for a glass of buck’s fizz.
Prosecco has sadly become a victim of its own success and there are some really shocking wines to be found, especially at the cheaper end, but Prosecco La Gioiosa Etamarosa NV DOC Treviso (Majestic £13.99 or £9.99 if bought as part of six bottles) is a lovely example.
Made by one of the region’s most well-known producers, this is just off dry with apple and floral notes, a persistent mousse and a really refreshing finish. A lighter alternative to Champagne and while on offer, good value.
Crémant de Loire is a form of sparkling wine that’s gaining in popularity; it is closer in style to Champagne than prosecco and can be a great value alternative.
Taste The Difference Crémant De Loire (Sainsbury’s £9 down from £11) is made by the same method as Champagne but here the predominant grape is chenin blanc. This has fine bubbles with a bouquet of peaches and a hint of honey, followed by a crisp palate and a surprisingly long finish. There’s enough structure to go with pre-lunch nibbles.
Moving up the quality ladder it’s now impossible to ignore the quality of English sparkling wine. So, staying close to home, Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé NV (£35 from the winery, £29.99 Fareham Wine Cellar and Hermitage Cellars) is one of the finest English sparkling rosés produced so far.
It has a beautiful pale colour with red fruits including strawberries and cranberry on the nose followed by a creamy texture, well-balanced acidity and a hint of sweetness to finish. Fine wine indeed.
Finally, in memory of a very special lady, my Christmas Day fizz will be Bollinger Rosé Brut NV (Waitrose £45, Majestic £50 or £40 if one of six bottles). It’s everything you would expect. Summer berry fruits, toasty notes and a wonderfully seductive mouth feel. This is as good as it gets.
I could happily drink sweet wine instead of dessert if you can still find some, and it’s definitely worth the effort. Pillitteri Estates Winery Vidal Ice Wine 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada (Lidl £14.99/half-bottle) is a real Christmas treat.
Ice wines are difficult to make and need a test of nerve from the producer. The grapes are left on the vine until frozen in the first frosts of the year and picked at night still in that frozen state. The result is an intensely sweet, richly-textured wine nicely balanced with pineapple and lychee fruit and amazing value.
• Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth on 01243 431002.