The Best in Party Wines

First Published in The Irish Times, December 24th, 2016

Its party time! If you are holding a New Year’s bash, now is the time to stock up on wine. Today, a last-minute look at less expensive party wines being offered by the multiples and independents in the final run-up to Christmas.

The sparkling wines below would be fine served as they are, but could also form the base of a seasonal cocktail – why not try a few drops of sloe gin? I have chosen lighter oak-free wines that are not too high in alcohol, perfect for sipping without food. Do remember to give your guests something to nibble on though; it will help soak up the alcohol. Make sure you have a few mocktails or other adult soft drinks for those who don’t drink alcohol.

Aldi have the ever reliable Crémant du Jura (€10.99), the excellent textured fruit-filled Lot 18 Baden Pinot Blanc (€13.99), and the pleasantly fruity Exquisite Fleurie (€9.99). Some branches of Lidl have stocks of two excellent Austrian wines, the Wachau Reserve Grüner Veltliner and Wachau Reserve Riesling (both €12.99). For a party red, I would take a look at the lightly fruity Cepa Lebrel Joven for a remarkable €6.99. If you need fizz, SuperValu has a very tasty Cremant de Loire (€15). For white, they have the Abello Albariño at a competitive €10, and for red either the Le Petite Perrière Pinot Noir (€11.99), the Rare Vineyards Malbec (€10) or the softly fruity Goichot Fleurie (€12). Tesco has an exceptional own-label Prosecco for €17.99, a decent South African Chenin Blanc for just €7, as well as the Viñas del Rey Albariño for €12.65,

Marks & Spencer have the delicious Mâcon Villages Blanc (€14.80) and Craft 3 Chenin Blanc (€15). For red wines, chose from the Sapin Beaujolais (€12), Old Vine Tempranillo (€11) and the warming Chateau Triniac Latour de France for €14. O’Briens offer the Viña Vedra Albariño (€12.95) and the great value fruit-filled Les Beauchamp Viognier Blanc for €10.

I have mentioned it before but the Pouilly-Fumé Domaine de Bel Air (€16.95) is a very tasty sophisticated Sauvignon Blanc. For a really good sparkling wine go for the L’Extra par Langlois (€17.95) and for red wine, the Leyda Pinot Noir Reserva (€11.95) and Begude Pinot Noir (€14.95) are both very keenly priced. The La Vieille Capitelle (€10) will suit those on a tight budget, as will the ever popular Porta 6 (€10).

Moving upmarket, Whelehan’s Wines have taken delivery of a delicious delicate dry Sancerre rosé (€19.95) that would be a wow at a posh drinks party.  They also stock the Godello Luna Beberide (€19.95) that would make a welcome change from yet more Sauvignon Blanc, and a very attractive red Sancerre (€19.95), made from Pinot Noir, to complete the range. Their Champagne from Bénard-Pitois, is utterly reliable.

Most independents will have stocks of the National Off-Licence Association (Noffla) award-winning Adega de Pegöes white (€14.99), and the Albizu Tempranillo (€12-€13) offers amazing value for money. Lastly if you want to push the boat out, the Noffla award-winning Champagne Louis Roederer (€60) will go down a treat. Happy Christmas!

Posted in: Irish Times

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