Drink in the Holidays

Start a new Christmas tradition with these festive wine that is sure to warm the soul

There’s no such thing as “Christmas wines”, however, most people tend to change the type of wines they drink during the festive season, and also tend to spend more for them.

The first change is the increase consumption of sparkling wines. Christmas is the best time of the year for Champagne houses because most people go deep into their pockets to buy Champagne, a product that is already quite overpriced.

If you want to enjoy a good sparkling wine, start looking outside Champagne. France has great sparkling wines made outside the Champagne area and at a fraction of the cost, check the crémant.

Italy would be a great choice for a great champagne alternative; but forget prosecco and get yourself a bottle or two of Franciacorta. And don’t forget Spanish Cava, which can be exceptional. You can also find interesting sparkling wines from California and Australia; avoid the cheap ones and you may be positively surprised.

The big dinners demand a good aged Bordeaux, or perhaps not. Again both Burgundy and Bordeaux are overpriced, and quality has been decreasing for the last few years. So again, start looking at other wine producing areas in France. For example, Cote Rotie or Chatuneauf du Pape, although probably not cheaper
than Bordeaux, produces amazing wines. Vacqueyras, Gigondas and the whites of the Loire Valley will bring lots of pleasure for less money.

If you are a Bordeaux lover, give Rioja wines a try, if you do your homework you will find them to be of similar quality but 30 to 70% cheaper. You can also have a look at Ribera del Duero and Navarra (all of these areas in Spain) for amazing good value wines. In Italy you can find great Nebbiolo wines (avoid Barolo if you are on a budget) as well as wines from Brunello de Montalcino or Taurasi that will make you forget the entire buzz about Bordeaux.

If Burgundy is your preferred area, you are not in luck for finding good substitutes. However, New Zealand Pinots are getting better and better, and so are those from Oregon and Washington. And if you want an alternative, look for quality Mencia from Bierzo, a hidden jewel that not many know.

In general, less well-known areas and less well-known grapes are likely to offer you more pleasure for the money, so be adventurous and try new things.

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