’TIS the season to be merry – so crack open one of these bottles and pour yourself a glass or two.
Wine expert Jilly Goolden checks out whites and reds for under a tenner and fizz for under £20, and talks you through her top 25 . . .
CHAMPAGNE / ENGLISH SPARKLING UNDER £20
Morrisons The Best Cremant de Limoux – £12.50, reduced to £10 in Scottish stores only until January 1
A FRILLY and fresh sparkling wine.
Light, buzzy stuff with flower-petal and lemon- curd notes creeping in on the flavour.
Made according to the traditional method, this is an excellent party wine to enjoy, all the evening through.
Lidl Carpentier Champagne Brut – £13.99
SEDUCTIVE baking- bread aromas with inviting, sweet counter- fruitiness.
Lingering apple and shortbread biscuit elements to the flavour.
Round and complete, classy and a great price too.
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Blanc de Noirs Champagne – £19.99
MADE entirely of black grapes, which makes it a little chunkier and fuller-bodied.
The bouquet calls to mind crumbled digestive biscuits and there’s a hint of blackcurrant leaf if you look for it.
A little clumsy overall.
Aldi Winemaster’s Lot English Sparkling Wine – £19.50, reduced from £21.50 until January 1
CREAMY and delicate crème patisserie notes.
Soft and inviting.
Made to a traditional method, with not a single harsh note.
Tesco Gartissier Champagne – £15
GREEN apple carries into the flavour, coupled together with a hint of royal icing.
Crisp and dry, with slightly challenging acidity.
Co-op Les Pionniers NV Brut Champagne – £19.50
APPLEY – but almost overwhelmingly so, unfortunately, and a little sour.
Doesn’t quite spread the joy – more of a challenge than a treat.
M&S Balfour Classic Cuvée Brut (English) – £19, reduced from £22 until January 2
SMELLS like hay in a barn, with an unusual “foxy” flavour – leafy with a little pine-resin note.
Waitrose Champagne Charles Lecouvey Brut NV – £17.99, reduced from £26.99 until January 1
HAS a slight blush to it, and coincidentally is scented like rose petals.
Classic champagne with tiny bubbles (shows class) plus peaches and cream notes.
Very easy to enjoy.
Asda Asquith Gardens English Sparkling Wine – £18
MATURE (a good sign) English sparkling wine with notes of croissant and green-skinned apples.
Toasty and fruity, with a little hint of fudge.
WHITE WINE UNDER £10
Morrisons The Best Alvarinho Vinho Verde – £7.50
SCENTS of grapefruit and trifle.
Off-dry, slightly honeyed, citrus-inspired flavour combo with a little prickle of liveliness on the tongue.
Lidl Cimarosa New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2022 – £5.99
CLASSIC “cat’s pee” scent then zippy and refreshing with a wallop of grass-green flavours.
A little astringent and shockingly tart.
Fine with food, or perhaps if your tastebuds need to be woken up a bit.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Austrian Riesling – £9.50
INSPIRED by flowers, pretty with a slight sweetness coating the tongue and a hint of marshmallows.
Zippy and lively on the tongue, which is attractive.
But too bland to have the wow factor.
Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – £8.50 – reduced to £7.50 for Clubcard Members till January 1
SCENTED a little like room-freshener, seemily rather unnatural.
To the taste, copybook Sauvignon blanc with suggestions of nettles, cut grass and crunchy green peppers, all finished off with lemony acidity.
Aldi Specially Selected Portuguese Encruzado – £6.99
A WHOOSH of artificial flower-petal aroma, and it tastes like pot pourri.
There are scents and flavours associated with cosmetics rather than wine.
A hint of Victoria sponge to the rescue.
Co-op Irresistible Gavi Broglia – £8.50
UNEXPECTEDLY soapy on the nose, but the flavour has a lively lemon marmalade character, of both fruit and peel.
Silky like sugared almonds.
But with a jab of refreshing acidity.
M&S D’Arenberg The Shepherd’s Clock Chardonnay – £9 reduced from £10 until January 2
A GOOD reason to fall back in love with Aussie chardonnay.
Scents of peaches and cream lead to generous tropical fruit flavours filling the mouth.
Creamy, with big flavours, but not overbearing.
Asda Extra Special Touraine Sauvignon Blanc – £7 reduced from £8 until January 1
ATTRACTIVE lawn-mowing scent with a slight hint of elderflower cordial.
Big mouth-feel for Sauvignon blanc, flavours such as preserved lemons and kiwi fruit.
An unusual show-off wine for France.
RED WINE UNDER £10
Morrisons The Best Dao Red – £9, reduced to £7 in Scottish stores only until January 1
SLIGHTLY unfocussed flavour spectrum – leafy and earthy elements combined with vivid fruit salad flavours.
There’s also an old-fashioned toughness, though.
Lidl Deluxe South African Shiraz 2021 – £5.49
THERE is a slight aroma of fermenting fruit juice about this wine.
The flavour starts well, like melted fruit-pastille jelly with whole raspberries.
But it ends disappointingly with a tarry tongue-coating quality.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Cotes de Ventoux Rouge – £8.50 reduced from £10 until January 1
OPULENT and spicy.
Classy red Rhone recalling a powerful medley of dark berries, with a dash of pepper and spice.
Tesco Finest Monte-pulciano d’ Abruzzo – £7, reduced to £6 for Clubcard Members until January 1
LIVELY and zingy on the tongue.
Fleshy sloe and blackberry fruit with a slight suggestion of leather.
An easy-drinking “session” red.
Good for glugging with a group of your friends.
Aldi Médoc Bordeaux – £7.99
UNDERSTATED, with classy label.
Serious stuff, a savoury red but softens after opening (let it breathe for a couple of hours) and becomes attractively seductive in a stand-offish, Bordeaux sort of way.
Co-op Irresistible Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir – £7.50, reduced from £8 until January 3
INTENSE fresh blackberry scent.
On the palate it is voluptuously fruity, with just-picked blackberry notes.
Soft and velvety in texture, with a hint of sweetness rounding off the flavour.
M&S Baracca & Fassoldi Chianti Riserva – £8.33, reduced from £12.50 until January 2
TYPICAL scent of strong tea, then leathery with drying tannin elements combined with the flavour of ripe cherries and violets.
But maybe not quite the right match for your Christmas dinner, this bottle.
Asda Extra Special Chateauneuf-du-Pape – £9.99, reduced from £16 until January 1
Dazzling black berries and Victoria plums pegged down by a serious seam of alcohol at 14.5 per cent.
Surprisingly soft and approachable, nevertheless, like a comforting port.
Top pick – if you’re man or woman enough for it.