Stock your cellar for Christmas
The wine buff
For some reason, Christmas seems to have started particularly early this year, and for once, I don't hear anyone objecting. It seems that we are all ready for a month of festivities and catching up with friends. So it's worth getting organised and stocking up on a few reliable bottles to have on hand when friends drop in or if you're planning a party.
The one thing to remember is to serve your wines at the right temperature. Most people serve their whites too cold and their reds too warm.
If you're serving sparkling wine or Champagne, make sure the bottles are well chilled or else they will froth all over the place when you pop the cork.
The ideal serving temperature is 6-10°C, so four hours in the fridge before your guests arrive should do it. For white wine, if it's aromatic, like a Sauvignon Blanc, aim for 8-12°C, which is about two hours in the fridge. White wines with a bit more body should be served at the slightly higher temperature of 10-12°C, so, one-and-a-half hours in the fridge.
Light, aromatic reds like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc are perfect to serve on their own without food and respond well to a little bit of chilling. Bring them down to 12-14°C with around half an hour in the fridge.
While you don't want to be serving your guests plonk, it's not the time to splash out on expensive bottles, unless it's a small gathering of wine enthusiasts. Villa Maria are running a six-case deal for €60 in SuperValu, Dunnes have Laurent Miquel Albarino for €10, and the Altivo range for €8.99 in Spar, Eurospar, Londis and Mace is very reliable,
Lidl have an easy drinking Coonawara Chardonnay for €7.99, Aldi have Santa Rita Reserve Sauvignon Blanc for €8.99, and M&S has Sumika, a low-alcohol rosé for €11.
The Venturer Series Costières de Nîmes 2017
€7.49, 13.5pc, from Aldi
This smells wonderfully ripe and juicy on the nose, and on the palate it's just as good, filled with delicious red fruit and bramble. A total crowd-pleaser, this is a really lovely wine at a great price.
Wild Flower Pinot Noir 2017
€8.33, reduced from €13.95 when you buy 6 for €50, 12.5pc, from O'Briens
Amazing value for a Pinot Noir, this Romanian red has a wash of fresh red raspberries, cherries and strawberries with a touch of spice, and is suitable for vegans.
Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2017 €9, 12.5pc, from Tesco
Always refreshing, this white wine from the Languedoc area of France ticks all the boxes with its crisp notes of lemon and clean acidity. A handy, vegan-friendly white to keep chilled in the fridge for casual visitors.
Feudo Arancio Grillo 2017
€12.50, reduced from €15 when you buy 2 for €25, 13pc from Mitchell & Son, CHQ, Sandycove, Avoca Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne
Perfect for drinking on its own, this has a little more complexity with floral notes and restrained tropical fruit flavours balanced with a good acidity.