Christmas dinner wines
The cream of Champagnes, classic whites and characterful reds to see you through your festive meal in fine style.
My whole family adores Christmas and, apart from a few years when we had goose to ring the changes, it is generally as traditional as can be - with smoked salmon to start, roast turkey and ham with all the trimmings for mains, sherry trifle and Christmas pudding for dessert, and cheese to finish.
We always start with Champagne and generally work our way through white and red wine, with a glass of port to go with the blue cheese. So my Christmas wine selection this year ranges from the diehard classics everyone enjoys to a few more unusual options that you might like to try if you're having a smaller number of people for dinner.
The most important thing is to go with a wine that you love: there's no need to get caught up in what's right or wrong; it's all about keeping the day special for you.
13.8pc, €26 from all good independent off-licences
You may be used to Sauvignon Blanc from France and New Zealand, but this one from Spain is well worth trying. With peach and melon on the nose as well as the usual grapefruit and herb notes, it is textured on the palate due to partial fermentation in oak, but still deliciously fresh.
Philippe d'Albecourt Champagne Brut NV
12pc, €14.99 from Aldi
If you have a small number of people, a half bottle of Champagne may be the perfect solution and this is a particularly nice one. Made from the three Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, blended in equal quantities, this has an inviting nose of toasty brioche and a rich, satisfying palate. Very good value.
Beaumont des Crayères
12pc, €29.95 (reduced from €36.95) from O'Briens and obrienswine.ie
A fantastic reduction for a top-quality Champagne, this blend of 60pc Pinot Meunier, 25pc Chardonnay and 15pc Pinot Noir is complex and weighty with generous aromas of toasted brioche and notes of hazelnut wrapped over a creamy, fresh palate.
Bellavista Franciacorta Alma Gran Cuvée NV
12.5pc €47.99 from Donnybrook Fair, Searsons, 64 Wine, Baggot Street Wines, The Wine Centre, Mitchell & Son, The Corkscrew, Green Man Wines, James Redmond & Sons, Jus de Vine, Clontarf Wines, Terroirs, all Dublin; and wineonline.ie
This tastes as good as it looks. Produced in Lombardy, using the Champagne method, it is considerably posher than Prosecco. With a nose of baked pastry, fresh lemon and a touch of apricot, it is complex on the palate, with a creamy texture and minerality balancing the pear and softer notes of wild honey.
Mount Horrocks Nero D'Avalo 2015
13.5pc, €37.99 from Blackrock Cellar, James Redmond & Sons, both Dublin, and wineonline.ie
I tasted this wine when Stephanie Toole visited Dublin a few months ago, and I immediately made a note: "Will go great with roasted turkey skin." So we're not talking insipid bird - this is an organic wine with bright, juicy fruit, fresh acidity and smooth tannins that will also pair beautifully with duck, goose, stuffing and honey-roast ham.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV
12pc, €65.99 from 64 Wine, Baggot Street Wines, Blackrock Cellar, Fallon & Byrne, Donnybrook Fair, Green Man Wines, Redmonds, Mitchell & Son, Terroirs, all Dublin; Red Nose wine, Clonmel; World Wide Wines, Waterford; O'Briens and leading independent off-licences
This is a favourite with wine critics, and for good reason. Rounded and elegant, with a mature and nutty nose, it has deliciously French flavours of peach, nectarine, frangipane and rich brioche with fine, persistent bubbles. Make sure the bottle has the name 'Charles' on the label.
Domaine des Baumard Savennières Clos St Yves
2014 13pc, €25.95 from 64 Wines, Blackrock Cellar, Searsons, Donnybrook Fair, Whelehans Wines, all Dublin; Worldwide Wines, Waterford; Vanilla Grape, Kenmare; The Wine Shop at no. 1 Pery Square, Limerick; and searsons.com
For a more unusual white with a bit of texture, Savennières, made from Chenin Blanc, combines a weightiness with naturally high acidity, making it perfect to serve with scallops, lobster and turkey. A special wine to savour.
Montagny Premier Cru La Grande Roche 2016, 13pc, €30.50 from Redmonds of Ranelagh; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; La Touche Wines, Greystones; Shiels Londis, Malahide; The Grapevine, Glasnevin, all Dublin
Sometimes only the classics will do and when it comes to whites, you're looking at the wonderful wines of Burgundy. Montagny is in the southern part of the Côte Chalonnaise, and this wine has delicate aromas of honeysuckle with a creamy palate of fragrant peaches balanced with lively citrus acidity.
Conde Valdemar Reserva
2010 13.5pc, €17.50 from Nolans, Martins, Shiels londis, Coolers, McHughs, Drinkstore, Sweeneys, Kellys, Jus de Vine, Lilac Wines, Mitchells, The Grapevine, The Ice Box, all Dublin; Egans, Portlaoise; 1601, Kinsale; Cosmo, Tuam; the Malt House, Trim; The Wine Centre, Kilkenny; O'Briens nationwide
Rioja is always a popular wine at Christmastime and with its rounded palate of bramble fruit, plums and hints of vanilla, this award-winning wine goes particularly well with duck and goose. Named 2018 NOFFLA Red Wine of the Year.
Crozes-Hermitage 2015 Domaine des Lises
13.5pc, €33 from 64 Wine, Glasthule, Co Dublin
There is something truly pure about a Syrah from the northern Rhône and, while many of them may need a bit of time in the bottle, this flavour-packed wine is ready for drinking now, with its generous palate of juicy blackberries, plum and pepper, and linear note of graphite.
13pc, €12.95 (reduced from €18.45) from O'Briens
Albariño is on trend at the moment and is always a good choice when you're looking for a wine style that will suit most palates. This one also happens to be vegan. With aromas of peach and a distant floral note, this is vibrant on the palate, with plenty of fruit and pure, racy acidity. Great with fish, shellfish or goats' cheese, it's a crisp white that can also go with turkey.
Teac Mor Pinot Noir 2013
14.5pc, €39.95 from O'Briens and obrienswine.ie
Pinot Noir is a classic match for turkey and this grape variety, which requires a long, slow ripening period, is particularly suited to the cool Russian River Valley of Sonoma County in California. With a perfumed nose, this top-quality Pinot (with an Irish name, to boot) has a dominant character of succulent cherries layered with mineral notes, spice and a touch of vanilla.
Taylor's 325th Anniversary Limited Edition Tawny
20pc, from 64 Wines, Green Man Wines, Mitchell & Son, Grapevine, Jus de Vine, McHughs, Kellys, Gibneys, Sweeney's, Clontarf Wines, Higgins, Whelehan Wines, Grape & Grain, Terroirs, The Wine Library, D-Six, L Mulligan, Next Door SCR, all Dublin; Callan's, Dundalk; The Parting Glass, Enniskerry; O'Donovan's, Pettitt's SuperValu, Wexford; and O'Briens.
You may only drink Port once a year, and if that is the case, make it a good one. This top quality tawny Port is rich and opulent, with bright mulberry fruit, and dense flavours of butterscotch, nuts and raisins.
Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut
12.5pc, €19.99 from Lidl
At a price that means you can have more than one glass, this is ideal for a crowd. Slight floral notes, crisp lemon and apple flavours on the palate, a creamy texture and characteristic touch of biscuit on the finish.