RAISE A GLASS

Derby Telegraph - - FOOD & DRINK - WITH JANE CLARE

IF YOU’VE been pay­ing at­ten­tion you’ll know I’ve shared some white wine ideas for Christmas. This week I’m start­ing down the road of the reds.

It could be a long road to travel, but I’m do­ing it in two jour­neys – this week, light, fruity, savoury, com­plex – next week more ro­bust rich reds.

What does that mean for your Christmas din­ner? I much pre­fer lighter fruity reds with a fes­tive plate of flavours which can have so many mix and match com­bi­na­tions. A ro­bust red can be over­pow­er­ing – but if you love it, then you jolly well drink it.

Let’s move to my first choice. Ursa Maior Rioja Tem­pranillo

(£6.50, Spar) is a very ac­ces­si­ble Rioja which de­liv­ers bright red fruits on the nose and soft tan­nins and the same red fruits in the mouth. It is un­oaked and re­tains a juicy fresh­ness.

I love a fruity beau­jo­lais, and, if you didn’t know, there are three styles you can buy. The ba­sic Beau­jo­lais AC, then the next ap­pel­la­tion is Beau­jo­lais Vil­lages and fi­nally, within the Beau­jo­lais Vil­lages are the Beau­jo­lais Crus, a hand­ful of vil­lages with their own dis­tinc­tive tastes.

For Christmas, Lidl has the crus wine Françoise

Dubessy Fleurie (£7.99). Fleurie is one of the most pop­u­lar styles which is fresh and juicy with rasp­ber­ries and a shake of pep­per. By con­trast, a much more com­plex crus wine is Chateau des Jac­ques Moulin a Vent 2016 (RRP £19.60, Sains­bury’s) which is dark and spicy, savoury and com­plex. Very tasty and el­e­gant. A lighter, softer beau­jo­lais which will go with ev­ery course, is Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jac­ques Beau­jo­laisVil­lages 2016 (RRP £11, Tesco and Ocado).

A wine I en­joyed test­ing for you guys is

KWV The Men­tors Petit Ver­dot 2016 (£14.99, slurp.co.uk, right). Petit ver­dot is a grape usu­ally tak­ing a back seat in a

blend, but here the South African pro­duc­ers have pushed it cen­tre stage. It has a flash of cher­ries, spice, black fruits and pen­cil shav­ings. Trust me. Pen­cil shav­ings.

Fi­nally, if a pinot noir is your pref­er­ence (and it is mine!) Tesco Finest New Zealand Marl­bor­ough Pinot Noir 2017 (£8.50) is well worth the price.

Good pinot noir usu­ally re­tails well above this, but it’s no slouch by com­par­i­son. That won­der­ful earth­i­ness is there in spades and it’s got enough about it to give the parsnips and sprouts a run for their money. Re­minded me of a foot­ball team I sup­port. Goes down a lit­tle too eas­ily. Also in my glass… Gin­ger­bread. Sounds very Christ­massy, doesn’t it. Asda’s sea­sonal of­fer­ing of Ex­tra Spe­cial Gin­ger­bread Gin Liqueur (£12) has an amaz­ingly mor­eish nose of gin­ger­bread (the clue is in the name I guess) and even more so, of caramel and cin­na­mon. It tastes soft and unc­tu­ous, not harsh in the least. I loved it. A pal saw it in my kitchen and said she adds it to pros­ecco!

Break­ing news … I’ve just read that Aldi’s Gin­ger­bread Gin Liqueur. (£9.99, pic­tured left ) has won a gold medal at the Spir­its Busi­ness Global Liqueur Mas­ters. That’s an­other tip for free. You see, I keep on giv­ing this Christ­mas­time.

■ JANE is a mem­ber of the Cir­cle of Wine Writ­ers. Find her on so­cial me­dia as One Foot in the Grapes.

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