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December 11, 2014

How to choose the best wine for Christmas


The true meaning of Christmas? Peace and goodwill to all men, of course — but quality drinks come a strong second. Let’s face it, sometimes they’re the only way to get through the TV repeats and lively “family discussions”. Champagne is many people’s choice for the opener on Christmas morning — start as you mean to go on — but the big question is generally what to drink with the festive turkey.

The discerning bluffer should note that — as a low fat, medium-weight and medium-flavoured bird — turkey is best matched with a full-bodied white or medium to full-bodied red with medium tannin, like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rioja or red Burgundy. But an aged claret can pair beautifully because the tannins have softened — and Port can finish off the whole occasion sweetly.

But exactly what should we be buying? We asked Jon Hirsch and Paul Hammond of fine wine investors IG Wines give us their tips for a Christmas tipple, complete with scores from wine critic Robert Parker.

You’re going to a house party and you’ve got about £15 to spend
“For a red, Jon will generally bring a bottle or two of Le Volte, dell’Ornellaia 2012 (approx. £15) to a party. It’s best known for being the third wine of the great Ornellaia and benefits from the Estate’s world-famous winemaking. It might be at the top end of the spend but this is reflected in its 91/100 points score. If you’re looking for a white wine, Paul’s go-to choice is Abeille de Fieuzal 2013 (£15 a bottle). It’s the second white wine of the historic Bordeaux property Fieuzal and it’s made to be consumed younger than Fieuzal Blanc.”

You need a quality family wine for Christmas dinner with turkey — up to £25 a bottle
“Try Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Reserva 2001 (£22): Rioja displays medium tannin and is abundant in red fruit which pairs perfectly with the flavour of the turkey and cranberry sauce. López de Heredia Tondonia is one of the best Riojas on the market and in 2001 they produced a showstopper. This wine absolutely sings from the bottle.”

You want to impress someone with an amazing Christmas present – around £100 a bottle
“Robert Parker declared the 2009 Bordeaux vintage ‘one of the best of my lifetime, giving Lynch-Bages 2009 (£100) his highest-ever score of 98 points. The 2009 Lynch-Bages is a future superstar, and we think it will surpass the 1989 and 1990. It will provide immense pleasure now, or be laid down for twenty years. Kept correctly it’ll only improve.”

You’re decompressing between Christmas and NYE
“The days between Christmas and NYE are heaven-sent relaxation time. Shut the door, turn off the phone and hide under a duvet with whichever Bond film is on the telly. With a 92/100 score the Sicilian Mazzei Zisola 2011 (£16) is perfect for these days. Its warm, succulent fruit and delightful finish provides the perfect tonic to help you unwind and relax over Christmas.”

You know someone who might be interested in this wine investment thing
“We’re a fine wines investment and advisory service that helps investors to get the best from the wine market, whether you’re collecting, buying to drink or investing for the long term. For a gift we suggest the Tignanello 2010 at £270 per six-bottle case — it’s a future legend from a seminal vintage in Tuscany — or the Bollinger La Grande Année 2004 at £268 per six-bottle case, stored a bonded warehouse. The Bollinger has risen 30% in value over the past three years, so as you can see, there’s money to be made.”

Interested? Learn to hold your own against the most superior of sommeliers with The Bluffer’s Guide To Wine, a more modest and yet still delightful Christmas present at £6.99.

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