It’s always tempting to bring out your best bottles at Christmas, perhaps wines you’ve treasured for years.
But if you are not careful they can be a disappointment.
All those flavours on the plate and all the other distractions round the table mean
sometimes the wine can get a bit lost.
Generally speaking, I think crowd-pleasing reds with plenty of fruit are what’s required, and in my house I tend to head to the new world.
So here are a few suggestions that should still be able to hold their ground and rise
above the festive excitement.
Astelia 2016, Pezenas (Aldi £9.99) is made by Jean Claude Mas, one of the best-known producers in the south of France and this is a sort of France-meets-the-New-World red with lots of flavour.
Made from grenache, mourvedre and syrah, it's deep in colour, with lots of dark berry fruits, vanilla and asian spices on the nose, followed by layers of ripe fruits on the palate and a slight savoury edge.
It's good value and even comes in a bottle that will match the festive table and would also work well with roast beef, if that’s what you are serving.
Zinfandel is a grape that is often misunderstood in this country but it really can match the turkey rather well.
Shenandoah Amador County Zinfandel 2015 (The Wine Society £10.50) is classic Californian zinfandel with plenty of almost-sweet, dark berry fruit, mocha and spices on the bouquet, followed by soft tannins and more chocolate and dark fruit on the finish.
This is bold wine but still well-balanced and would be one of those wines that could put the cranberry sauce, which is really not a wines best friend, back in its place!
If you want something a little more elegant but still from the new world, then Robert Oatley Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Margaret River (The Co-op £9.99, winedirect.co.uk £10.95) is one of my great-value wines of the year.
Produced by one of Australia’s great wine making dynasties and aged in French oak, this is very approachable with touches of cassis, plum, dried herbs and
mint on the nose, followed by finely structured tannins, blackberries and a nicely-textured
Decant this an hour before you serve it and you’ve got a very elegant but well-flavoured wine that will even appeal to the claret drinkers.
Lastly something a little more traditional, Barolo 2013, Villa Peironte (M&S £16 on offer from £19 until January 1) is a lovely and well-priced on offer, well-made barolo.
There are the classic notes of violets, tobacco and savoury, earthy aromas on the nose, followed by a long, concentrated palate with fine tannins and just a touch of raisin fruit and clove like spices.
This would be really lovely with goose or game if that is your preferred Christmas centrepiece.
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail