As co-host of This Morning, Phillip Schofield is usually the one posing the questions. So we thought we’d turn the tables and sent Waitrose Drinks editor Joanna Simon to do the interviewing



How did you choose your Christmas case – food,
people, or wine first? 


Wine first, always. The wines have to be fun, not stuffy, but they’re quite classic. I know I’ve got it right if I see my
mother-in-law smiling quietly as she sips.



Was there a light-bulb moment for you with wine?


There have been two or three, but the key one involved Jason Donovan. I did him a favour, helping with an album he was compiling and, as a thank you, he sent me
a case of Puligny-Montrachet and a case of Gevrey-Chambertin. They came with tasting notes and when I tried the wines and read the notes I thought: ‘Yes I understand this. I get it.’ And the odyssey began. There are gaps on the wall at home where there should be pictures, but I’ve bought wine instead. It’s a convivial hobby with a set of wine friends who are fun and generous with their wines and knowledge. Although every time I take one step forward, it seems like I also take three steps back!



What about a desert-island wine?


The really impossible one would be Château Ausone 1959. I had it with a friend on his 50th birthday. It was sublime – I can taste it now. Having said that, you can drink the most expensive wine in a bad mood and it won’t taste good, but the cheapest one in a good mood with friends can be wonderful. I once opened a bottle of Mouton-Rothschild (the only one I had) after a really bad day and really didn’t enjoy it much.



Do you have a cellar?


Yes, it’s my pride and joy. My dad helped me dig it. There are thousands of bottles, but I know I’m only the custodian of some of them. I love Châteauneuf-du-Pape and I’ve got lots of northern Rhône, but I buy less en primeur now because it’s so expensive. Also, I’ve got enough to drink for ever and be generous. I buy day to day in Waitrose in Henley and I’m never afraid to ask for suggestions. That would be my advice to everyone – don’t be afraid to ask.



What will you be drinking
this Christmas?


My Waitrose case, definitely. I think the Pinot Noir will be really good with lots of things, although I don’t get hung up on food and wine matching. I just observe the basics. We’re a big family, so we’ll also have some large format bottles. They look so grand. Our dining room is full of big bottles from past celebrations.


Chiarli Vecchia Modena Pignoletto NV Spumante Brut

This is lovely – refreshing and not too sweet, with an elegant smell of peaches and apples, a gorgeous fizz, and a hint of walnuts on the finish. Personally, I prefer something like this over one of the more affordable branded Champagnes – it’s got a lot more character.


Tabalí Encantado Reserva Viognier

You can often pick Viognier out in a line-up because of its powerful nose of apricots – here there are subtle hints of apricot and pear, and in your mouth it’s rich and full. What makes it attractive is that it’s not a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay, but a really exciting alternative.


Climbing Shiraz

This is a bigger, bolder, spicier red, but don’t think that, because it’s Australian, it can’t be subtle. It doesn’t have the smack-you-in-the- face fruit you might expect. Instead, there’s a loamy earthiness and a subtlety to the rich plumminess – perfect with your cold cuts on Boxing Day.


Giesen Dillons Point Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can be very, very green, with a soaring smell of gooseberries, but this is a little less ‘in your face’. It still has the greenness that is the attraction, but it’s tempered with a very discreet layer of tropical fruit that softens it down just a little bit.


Sandiford Road Pinot Noir 

As soon as you put your nose into the glass, you get a burst of ripe berries, vanilla and a subtle hint of oak from this wine. There are no hard edges and it’s as elegant as a Pinot Noir should be, with depth of character and a creaminess that comes from the oak.


Waitrose Reserve Tawny Port

A fantastic drink all year round, port’s natural home is Christmas. This is absolutely the best quality you’ll find at this price level – warming and rich, with a chestnut roastiness and flavours of caramel and figs. Perfect to send you up to bed, celebrating a job well done.