The festive period has truly arrived and with it, plenty of occasions to crack open a bottle of something special. Raising a glass with loved ones always feels like an important part of Christmas. With this in mind, we asked six wine experts to pluck out one wine that’s set to impress guests.
We’ve gathered recommendations from sommeliers, buyers, restaurant and shop owners and IWSC judges for wines to pour and share on the big day. From a sommelier who’s just compiled the wine list at Mauro Colagreco at Raffles London, the hottest new table in London, to a senior fine wine buyer for Bordeaux Index, we surveyed a range of experts to bring you tips that should help you break away from the conventional Christmas Day fare.
In our list you’ll find old vine Chenin to pair with your turkey, an expert recommendation for Champagne to serve on Christmas Day and even a special bottle of icewine for sweet treats and mince pies.
Whether you’re planning a small soirée or a big family bash, these top wines are fit for the season and are to be enjoyed with plenty of festive cheer.
Six festive wines to crack open this Christmas
Mullineux Old Vines White 2022, South Africa
- £163 (case of six), Bordeaux Index
- Recommended by Victoria Mason, IWSC judge and senior fine wine buyer for Bordeaux Index
‘The first South African wine I ever drank on South African soil was Mullineux Old Vines White, and it is one of my absolute go-to wines at Christmas – I am yet to meet someone who doesn’t love it. A Chenin Blanc-dominant blend (the 2022 vintage comprises 72% Chenin) from various old-vine plots in the Swartland, it is amazingly versatile with Christmas lunch and all the trimmings (especially if your roast of choice is turkey, or veggie).
‘Chenin’s naturally vibrant acidity shines through and can stand up to the likes of tangy cranberry sauce, with the other varieties in this ensemble (Semillon Gris, Clairette Blanche, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Verdelho) bringing waxy texture and lovely weight, as well as a complex array of flavours from apricots and quince to hazelnuts, ginger, and beeswax. I don’t imagine there will be any bottles left after all the festivities, but if there are, you can tuck them away in the safe knowledge that this wine ages beautifully.’
Produttorio del Carema, Carema Riserva 2017, Italy
- £45, North Norfolk Cellars
- Recommended by Bert Blaize, founder of North Norfolk Cellars
‘Carema is a tiny, lesser-known DOC close to the border between France and Switzerland. The Romans were believed to be among the first to plant grapes here on the steep terraces due to their strategic position and access through the Alps.
‘The wine is 100% Nebbiolo and an excellent alternative to Barolo at a fraction of the cost. It’s packed full of high-tone, tart red-fruit notes, like cranberries and red cherry skin, and it has a super-elegant finish. This comforting mountain wine is perfect during the festive period and great paired with goose, venison or rich cow’s milk cheese.’
Dhondt-Grellet, Dans un Premier Temps, Extra Brut, France
- £58, Bubbleshop
- Recommended by Sandia Chang, sommelier co-founder of Kitchen Table
‘This wine has a wonderful complexity that pairs really well with a variety of food – so I’d recommend enjoying it alongside Christmas lunch or dinner. From one of the rising superstars of Champagne, Adrien Dhondt, this particular cuvée uses 70% of base vintage 2019, and 30% reserved Champagne from a solera his parents started in 1986, creating a unique balance of freshness and maturity.
‘It is elegant with apricots, almond skins, peach flowers and brioche. If you want the ultimate wine pairing for the entire Christmas dinner table, this is it.’
I Mandorli, Vigna alla Sughera Sangiovese, Toscana IGT 2015, Italy
‘In the world of wines, there are those that tick all the boxes for festive occasions, those that seamlessly complement a range of dishes, and those that simply capture your heart in the first glass. Vigna alla Sughera from I Mandorli, a Tuscan hidden treasure, falls into the latter group. Although it might not fit the traditional Christmas food checklist or be hailed as the archetypal celebratory bottle, it has a place in my heart, and it’s my recommendation for those who aren’t afraid to move away from “ticking the boxes”.
‘The wine is serious yet fun, complex yet approachable. It doesn’t demand a specific occasion or pairing; rather, it invites you to celebrate life’s moments, special or ordinary. For me, it’s a selfish pleasure – a bottle for a quiet evening or a glass to share with a friend.
‘A relatively young project, born in the early 2000s, I Mandorli has been working with dedication, practising biodynamic farming since day one. The wine reflects soil, place, variety, and person. It speaks of historical significance but young vision.’
Peller Estates, Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019, Canada
‘The festive season is the perfect time to indulge and enjoy some styles of wines that are consumed less often. Christmas carols are always accompanied by sweets and treats like Christmas pudding, mince pies, trifle, Christmas shortbread and the infamous yule logs. It can be difficult to find the ideal pairing for those delicacies, but my go-to wine is the 2019 Cabernet Franc Icewine produced by Peller Estates in Niagara Peninsula.
‘These Canadian sweet wines show refined and aromatic aromas of rhubarb, raspberry, red cherry, and blackberry followed by sweet spices and caramelised brown sugar notes. The palate displays an elevated, rounded mouthfeel with pronounced flavours of baked redcurrants, pomegranate, and nutmeg. The finish is elegant with integrated sweetness and a long, lingering acidity that makes the wine a powerful ally for those festive desserts. Let’s indulge!’
Teliani Valley, Glekhuri, Krakhuna 2020, Georgia
- Glekhuri Wines are stocked in the UK by Field & Fawcett
- Recommended by Melania Battiston, IWSC judge and F&B manager for Aman Resort
‘As Christmas is about tradition, I have chosen an all-round wine with thousands of years of tradition, which might also start an engaging conversation around the table.
‘Thanks to a recent trip with IWSC to Georgia, I familiarised myself with local Qvevri-made wines. My favourite was an unpronounceable white grape variety called Krakhuna, from Glekhuri Winery, 2020. This quirky but clean, structured wine can accompany you from starter to main to cheese. The body is more structured, like a red wine, with grippy but elegant tannins, and its aromatics intense like a charming white wine, with ripe stone fruits, walnuts and toast. Think of it as an adventure for your guests’ minds.’