'Christmas is definitely my favourite time of year. The whole family, aged eight to 80, comes to us and, as soon as they step through the door, they’re welcomed with a glass of cold fizz.
Having spent the year tasting and writing about wine for Waitrose, I find putting together my annual Christmas wine case is a chance to look back and revisit some of the absolute belters I’ve been lucky enough to try. I’m particularly proud of this year’s selection and now’s my chance to share them with you. All the wines are terrific value – so important at Christmas when your finances are pulled in different directions – and they taste incredible' - Phillip Schofield
Finding a Christmas fizz to please everyone’s palate is quite difficult. Some of your family might prefer something a tad sweeter, or less acidic, than traditional Champagne.
For the host, though, the most important thing is to find a fizz that’s friendly and fun. I’ve picked this Prosecco because of its fantastic quality and wonderful balance – it’s not overtly sweet or too dry, with appealing notes of apples and pears. As your guests walk through the door at Christmas, a glass of this will make them feel very welcome indeed.
Even, if like me, you’re into matching food with wine, you’ll find that the Christmas plate – piled high with rich meat, sage scented stuffing and all those different styles of potatoes and vegetables – is really quite a a challenge.
The wine you choose has a lot of flavours to pick its way through, and many potential stumbling blocks. This one is a terrific choice for white-wine drinkers – it’s dry and packed with perky citrus and green-apple aromas, plus bags of spicy pepperiness. If you’ve never tried a Hungarian Grüner before, this wine is a real treat.
Christmas calls for something a little bit special, but splashing out on a top-quality white Burgundy, for example, can sometimes have mixed results. Instead, try this Marsolay Chardonnay from the sunny south of France, which is oaked to create an almost Burgundian style at a fraction of the price.
Its elegant, balanced creaminess is the perfect foil to the flavours on your Christmas plate, while its tropical fruit and citrus flavours, and silky finish, make it an enjoyable wine to share with friends and family, with the Christmas meal or for a cosy night in.
I’ve always been a big fan of Rhône wines as they are so unique: bright, fruity and spicy with flavours and aromas that echo the herbs that grow around them and the sun that beats down on them. I picked this one because it’s nice to have 2 very different reds on your festive table.
Traditional Christmas reds are bold and full-bodied. This Côtes du Rhône is less tannic and lighter in style, without scrimping on flavour – it’s packed with notes of juicy red fruit, delicate spices and herbs that will sit well alongside herb-and-onion stuffing.
Parker, Favourite Son Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia
The name made me laugh as, even though one isn’t supposed to choose a favourite ‘son’ (as the winemakers call their wines), I had a number of reds lined up as candidates for my case and this one definitely stood out.
This is a serious Cabernet Sauvignon – very muscular with velvety tannins and bold flavours of juicy black fruits – the style of red I love. When I tasted it, I would have guessed it was two or three times more expensive, so grab the chance to taste a spectacular wine at a frankly astonishing price.