Wine: Plan your party pieces
It's not too early for Christmas rule number one: get organised and start planning and stocking up on everything from the essential celebratory bubbly crowd pleasers to impressive dinner-party bottles.
Keep the party spirits up, while minimising the risk of headache with low alcohol content. There's plenty of choice in whites, most notably among Germany's Mosel Riesling -- where it starts at about 7.5pc -- Australian Semillon or Portugal's Vinho Verde.
Reds tend be naturally higher, but at least avoid 14pc-15pc blockbusters.
A standby stock of decent dinner-party reds and whites, whether as a host or guest, is a must.
No worries then about remembering to buy a bottle on the same day you are grappling with the trees.
Buy in bulk and, better again, have the wine delivered. Off-licences offer deals, or you could check out websites such as winesdirect.ie, fromvineyardsdirect.ie, winestore.ie and wineonline.ie.
Get a taste of what's on offer -- and buy at discount prices -- at seasonal wine fairs, usually supporting a local charity. They include:
- November 14: Corkscrew Chatham Street at Westbury Hotel, 12.30pm-5pm.
- November 18: Cork Wine Fair at Clarion Hotel, 5pm-10pm; and Cases, Galway, at Cases, Tuam Road, 6.30pm-10pm.
- November 19: La Touche, Greystones, at Greystone LTC, 5pm-9pm.
- November 24: Gibneys Malahide at Grand Hotel, Malahide, 6pm-10pm.