We all have our tried-and-tested favourites that we turn to during the festive period – but why not use the opportunity to try something new? It’s a joy to share a new favourite with loved ones, so we’ve made it easy to find something new to try this Christmas, using examples that are similar to those you already know and love.
Try a Bag-in-Box...
A fine, dry white wine of great delicacy from the Mâconnais in southern Burgundy, the warmest part of the region. The wine is ripe and round, with flavours of toasted hazelnut, apple and stone fruit, a hint of citrus and a lovely streak of minerality. The perfect size for parties.
Vibrant, fruity white from Gascony in the south west of France that is as deliciously light and refreshing as ever. Keep this three-litre box conveniently in the fridge and have it on tap festive drinking by the glass or for get-togethers of family and friends.
Bag yourself the chance to enjoy Côtes-du-Rhône on tap! This box contains five lovely litres of round and fruity red from Domaine Jaume, who have been supplying The Wine Society with Côtes-du-Rhône since 1981. With a touch of spice to the flavour, this is made with grenache and syrah grapes from young vines, giving the wine a freshness that makes it perfect for food.
If you like chardonnay...
Chenin blanc is a great grape for chardonnay fans to try, and this reigning Wine Champion is made by a master of the variety: Chris Alheit. This wine is part barrel-fermented and matured a little longer on the fine yeast lees, bringing extra breadth and toasty richness that is reminiscent of an oaked chardonnay.
Staying on the chenin theme, you could also try this example from the chenin’s heartland: the Loire Valley. Expressions here are lighter and zestier, like a fresh Chablis. This Saumur Blanc is made without the use of oak, and is so light it pirouettes on the palate. A naturally great match for shellfish, and an even better match for oysters.
Some of the finest Chardonnay can be found in Burgundy, but did you know that there is another white grape permitted? Aligoté is its name, and in the right hands, it can yield results that rival the fine chardonnays made nearby. This aligoté is ripe yet firm and dry, maintaining freshness which balances the richness of the 2020 vintage.
If you like sauvignon blanc…
For sauvignon blanc alternatives, look for similarly aromatic varieties. This white Rhône blend is viognier-dominant, a grape known for its peachy fragrance, similar to ripe sauvignon. This is dry, full-bodied and fruity with complex flavours of peach, pear and a touch of honey.
The fashionable grüner veltliner is another aromatic variety that will appeal to sauvignon enthusiasts. This grape is perfectly suited to Nelson in New Zealand, bringing bright peach and lemon, followed by a dry refreshing finish. The best non-Austrian grüner veltliner our buyer, Freddy Bulmer, has tasted.
If you like your sauvignon fresh, with notes of peach and green apple, then Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur Lie is a good option. Made from a grape called melon de Bourgogne, Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine is the best-known appellation in Muscadet. From the Vinet family in the western Loire, this wine is versatile, but still the classic match for shellfish.
If you like Provence rosé…
Here’s a rosé that’s just as pale as Provence. You might be familiar with white Sancerre, but did you know they make Sancerre rosé as well? Here, pinot noir is handled like a white wine, creating freshness and a light-pink hue. The palate is reminiscent of strawberries and redcurrants.
Another pale rosé made from Spätburgunder (German pinot noir). This bone-dry wine is round with ripe hints of strawberry, reflecting the warmth of the 2022 vintage. It’s a wine that’s versatile with food, but is great on its own, just like a Provence rosé.
Dare to go darker? This sumptuous Rhône rosé is deep pink and full-bodied. Inevitably designed to accompany food, and especially Mediterranean-style dishes. It copes well with heat and spice and is stunning with roasted vegetables.
If you like merlot…
Smooth, plummy merlot is a popular component in Bordeaux blends, so it’s sure to be a wine style you’ll love. The Society’s Côtes de Bordeaux is a deeply coloured ripe claret from the vineyards of member favourite Château de Pitray. Rich, with obvious, plump merlot fruit on the palate.
Helping Italy to retain its top position for quality and value in our 2023 Wine Champions tastings, this Valpolicella is a riot of wild berries, pepper and spice. There’s plenty here for a merlot-lover to enjoy.
Cabernet franc is a great grape to explore for those who like merlot’s juicy, sweet fruit. Smooth and fruity, this Chinon has notes of red and black fruit with a clean, juicy finish. The wine captures the fresh style of contemporary cabernet franc – chill slightly to enjoy at its best!
If you like cabernet sauvignon…
This has soothing flavours of leather, tobacco and cedar that cabernet drinkers will recognise and love. A blend of 40% malbec, 35% cabernet sauvignon and 25% merlot, this red wine is kept in foudres (large oak barrels) until mellow and round.
This is cedary, fresh and savoury carmenère from Chile. The grapes are picked a little earlier than normal, resulting in slightly less alcohol. Just like a fine cabernet, this should mature very well, developing plummy and lead-pencil aromas over time.
Located in the southwest of France, the Madiran region produces strong and vibrant red wines from the tannat grape. Our buyers were instantly struck by the passion of the domaine’s young vigneron, not to mention his wines, which are full-bodied, generous and ripe tasting.
We hope this article has offered you some guidance on how you can branch out and try something new this Christmas. However, if you have any further questions about any of the wines listed above, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our wine specialist team – they'll be more than happy to help.