Buying wine for Christmas

Buying wine in Dublin for Christmas? One week to go! Take the risk out of buying expensive wines with a few recommendations, based on wines which have made a big impression at my wine tastings and wine courses this year:

Molloys Liquor Stores: If you like Rhone wines, you are in the right place. Look out for Jerome Quiot- I’ve been really impressed by the sheer quality and value of all these wines, especially the Cairanne (a steal at €10.99), Gigondas (€15.99), Chateauneuf du Pape (€19.99) & a special release ‘Parcelles 38′ (€18) are also superb. Ch. Boucarut Rhone wines are also receiving great write-ups. The Cotes du Rhone was named one of the wines of the year by The Irish Times. Christmas offers include a wonderful Pouilly Fume Le Rochetais from Marcel Martin and Chablis le Finage, both €13.99 and excellent with shellfish.

O’Brien’s have a great Spanish selection. Always well-received at wine courses is Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva, now down to €14.99. Marques de Murrietta Ygay & Muga Riojas are both well-priced at €19.99. Highly-rated Matteo Ascheri’s Barolo Coste e Bricco is reduced to €26.99.

In Dunnes Stores, look out for Paco & Lola Albarinho (€9.99). Baron Nathaniel Pauillac from Baron Philippe de Rothschild (€19.99) really impressed also.

Tesco: A recent wine tasting revealed fine wine surprises such as Jadot Pommard 07 (€35), my old-favourite CUNE Rioja – Imperial Reserva 2004 at €29.99, stuning Gran Reserva 99 at €34.99. – I heard this week that this new on-line wine company has a second-to-none delivery service. Heartily recommended is the Champagne Barfontac at €35.

Sauvignon Blanc is a firm favourite – in Next Door off licences you will find a cracking little Sauvignon – l’Abbaye Sauvignon from the Loire, at €7.99.

Searsons in Monkstown: Domane Wachau Gruner Veltliner was a smash-hit at a wine tasting in Templeogue this summer (€19). Vina Leyda Pinot Noir Reserva is exemplary at €12.50, and smooth enough for Christmas Day drinking with turkey. Vina Leyda Sauvignon is particularly good also. More heavyweight styles on special offer include Zenato Ripassa della Valpolicella (down from €20), Luigi Bosca Malbec DOC Vistalba (down from €18). Diemersfontein Pinotage is one of the best on the market – try it with chocolate!

For personal recommendations to suit your palate and take the risk out of buying, I always recommend that you call in to your local specialist wine shop, where they get to know your preferences. Noffla (the National Off Licence Association) have highlighted some Goldstar wines available in specialist wine shops, including Moreau Chablis, Viu Manent Secret Pinot Noir Reserva, Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon.

I’ve been a big fan of de-alcoholised Torres Natureo since tasting it. So good, you really won’t miss the alcohol! Widely available.