What to drink at Christmas? Our comprehensive morning to evening guide
It goes without saying that wine is firmly on our Christmas Drinks Menu. And if it's Christmas food and wine pairings you're after, we've written a dedicated piece on that which you can read here.
But what about everything else? If you can't drink champagne/sherry/port/whisky/brandy at this time of year, when can you?
Plan early, plan twice - normally a pretty solid mantra to live life by. With Christmas drinks it pays to think ahead a little, and at least figure out which categories you need to cover. Here's what will be on our tables...
A splash of orange juice with your sparkling wine with breakfast by way of warm up, and champagne cocktails (see recipe below) should be all you need. Hold the Bloody Marys for Boxing Day, and the more flamboyant cocktails for NYE.
Classic Champagne Cocktail
Place a sugar cube onto a spoon and add two dashes of Angosturas bitters.
Drop the soaked sugar cube into your favourite champagne glass. Add 20ml cognac.
Top up the glass with champagne and serve.
Regular gold medal winner Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs Brut NV is a real treat. 100% Chardonnay with lemon curd and flinty notes, it is a showcase in precision.
For a totally different type of fizz, we'd recommend Moscato d'Asti (we're big fans of Contero's organic wine). A sweet treat at only 5.5% ABV, this'll be perfect alongside your first mince pie of the day.
There are lots of other good grower/producer Champagnes, and whilst it is a bit of a roll of the dice, they present much better value than many of the grand marques. Your local independent wine merchant will almost certainly have something decent.
At a lower price point, there are some excellent South African sparkling wines around at stupidly good prices (look out for Methode Cap Classique), and it's hard to ignore the value of Aldi's Monsigny Champagne, which could easily be double the £14.99 price tag.
Our head of wine, Justin has strong feelings about mulled wine. In the chilly days either side of Christmas, there's no better way to get into the spirit of the season than to cup your hands around a steaming glass of deliciously spiced red wine.
But you have to do it right. Justin still shudders when walking around the supermarket at Christmas, and sees a bottle of (whisper it gently) premixed mulled wine. Avoid the horrors of the premix and tap into Justin's mulled wine secrets here.
Fortified wines, dessert wines & spirits
Somehow Vintage Port seems like overkill at the end of the main Christmas lunch. We think well-aged Tawny Ports fit the bill better. They are equally celebratory, deliver a serious wallop of nutty, caramel filled, dried fruit deliciousness, and yet tread a little lighter. Qunita do Noval is an icon of the Port world and their 20 year-old Tawny is just the ticket.
It really is worth finding a slot or two during the festivities for Sherry, which is excellent with food and hugely over delivers on quality for the £. Dry sherry goes from Fino (lightest) to Oloroso (rich and nutty).
Fino sherry has a refreshing salty tang and almond character, making it the perfect choice for an alternative aperitif. Tio Pepe is the world's best selling Fino and for good reason - it offers great value and epitomises this style. Also a choice approved by Santa Claus!
...is SO good. It can be hard to find a time to drink sweet wines, but this means that they're seriously undervalued. We love Tokaji, Sauternes and Icewines.
If it's just for burning on your christmas pudding or topping off your mulled wine, you definitely don't need to splash out. Otherwise, look for an XO or a Napolean - these are the oldest and the best, and the most expensive!
For a late night dram of whisky to enjoy alongside your favourite Christmas carols, we'd go for something full-on with intense peaty, smoky and iodine character, such as Islay's 10 year-old Malt.
100% required throughout the Christmas period. It will need to fill gaps between meals, refresh and revive and possibly deal with some late night scenarios.
We'd suggest steering clear of anything too clever or too hoppy. This is the drink you'll turn to whilst deciding what to drink, so a mouthful of rose petal and lemon soap just won't work. Two options make it onto our tables - a nice lightish bitter and a decent, but not too craft lager.