Christmas cheers: Olly Smith’s 30 best festive drinks

From bargain to blow-out, Olly Smith picks his hottest festive bottles from the high street and online.

The 30 best festive drinks for Christmas 2020

best festive drinks 2020
Louise Hagger

Best rosé

DOMAINE SAINT FELIX 2019 (12.5%), £8.50, Now you’re talking! Seriously good rosé with a seamless elision of peach, red fruit, summer berries and a long fragrant finish of vitality and refreshment.

Best fizz with smoked salmon

ROEBUCK CLASSIC CUVÉE 2014 (12%), £35, I bought six bottles as soon as I tasted this. Incredibly balanced between fruit and finesse, it knocks spots off big-name Champagne for four times the price.

Best with fish

ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL CHENIN BLANC 2019 (14%), £5. Peachy and ripe with glossy texture, this South African white is spot-on with everything from fish pie to prawns, scallops and poached salmon.

Best party fizz

M&S CLASSICS PROSECCO NV (11%), £8. Bright, light and fruity as a pear on a trampoline, this bubbly is exquisite and superb quality for the cash.

Best party beer

CRUMBS BLOOMIN’ AMBER LAGER (4.8%), £2.65, Waitrose. Immaculately balanced between lager and ale, this is malty magic. Serve chilled for the ultimate brew to win the widest number of fans.

Best blow out white

AMOS BIANCO KELLEREI KURTATSCH ALTO ADIGE 2017 (13.5%), £25.90, Next-level Italian wine. A rich, sleek beauty with subtle gingery spice. Outstanding with festive ham or pork.

Best blow out red

PINOT NOIR PRÉCOCE 2019 FLINT VINEYARD, ENGLAND (12.5%), £20.95, Worth every penny, this light red is scented and splendid. I buy it, I love it and it’s the future of English wine. Terrific with cold cuts.

Best wine with turkey

BERONIA GRAN RESERVA RIOJA 2011 (14.5%), £24.99, Majestic. Perfectly powerful yet balanced to crown your Christmas feast. I’ve tasted my way through the realm of Rioja and this is up there.

best festive drinks 2020
Louise Hagger

Best party white

SORSO FIANO 2019 (13%), £6.75, Morrisons. Refreshing with a turbocharge of orangey fruit, this Italian ace is primed for your festive celebrations.

Best magnum

CHÂTEAU CLOS FONTAINE CÔTES DE FRANCS MAGNUM 2016 (13.5%), £39, All the Bordeaux you’ll need, made from 65-year-old Merlot vines, this has ripeness and elegance to make you grin with glee.

Best with Christmas pudding

GRAN BARQUERO PEDRO XIMENEZ (15%), £9.99, Waitrose. Deep, dark, sweet, delicious. Think liquid sultanas, sweet dates and dried figs. Serve this chilled with your Christmas pud for a scrumptious tot of a treat.

Best fridge white

PACO&LOLA ALBARIÑO 2019 (13%), £12, Sainsbury’s. Astonishingly good, zingy and intense with magical refreshment and peachy character. Keep on standby in the fridge for an instant classy quencher.

Best kitchen table red

VIÑALBA FINCA LA 70 MALBEC CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2019 (14%), £9, Co-Op. Bold and beautiful, this winter warming red is a deserving award-winner. If cooking steaks, this is the wine to pour.

Best port

TESCO FINEST LBV PORT 2015 (20%), £11. Sweet, sumptuous and lush, this is like sipping liquid plum jam layered with warming spice. Irresistible with stilton and a total bargain, too.

Best bargain

ANIMUS PORTUGUESE RED BLEND 2018 (13%), £3.99, Aldi. Aromatic spice, powerful, deep fruit and, what’s more, astonishing value – this season’s bargain red belongs to Aldi.

Best offer

SPRIT DE CHABLIS 2018 (12.5%), £10, Waitrose. Down from £17.99 from 2 December, be ready online and order the lot! This is creamy precise Chablis for ten quid – a seriously good offer that’s unmissable.

Best gift

LE FAÎTE BLANC 2016 (13.5%), £20.95, Crafted from unique local grapes, this silky rich white is one of France’s greatest hidden gems. A top gift for any wine lover, and beyond brilliant with lemon and rosemary roast chicken.

Best with mince pies

BLEASDALE THE WISE ONE TAWNY (18%), £11.50, Sweet and sumptuous, this is immense value for money. Serve it chilled for a taste of liquid Christmas.

Best cider

SXOLLIE GRANNY SMITH APPLE (4.5%), £2.10, Sainsbury’s. Wow! Only Granny Smith juice in here, no concentrate or added sugar, and the results are superb. Pass me a ham sandwich and I’m in heaven.

best festive drinks 2020
Louise Hagger

Best whiskey

TAMDHU 12 YEAR OLD (43%), £42.95, Matured in sherry casks for more than a decade, this blows me away with its cinnamon toast, candied orange and fruity biscuit brilliance – 100 per cent on my Christmas list.

Best liqueur

M&S CHOCOLATE SALTED CARAMEL BROWNIE LIQUEUR (15%), £12. Moreish, sweet and devilishly good, this is liquid luxury to indulge and delight in. No finer drop to sip alongside a box of chocolates.

Best gin

FOUR PILLARS BLOODY SHIRAZ (37.8%), £35, Waitrose. Stand aside, sloe gin – this is delicious fun from Down Under using Shiraz grapes to beef out the booze.

Best cocktail

TAYER PALO SANTO GIMLET (26.2%), £29.95, Rich, fruity and refreshing with a botanical twist, this pre-made cocktail and indeed the whole range from Tayer are as simple to pour as they are stunning to sip.

Best non-alcoholic

JUKES CORDIALITIES TASTING BOX, £38 for nine, Finally! A balanced nonalcoholic alternative for wine lovers. My favourite is Jukes No 6 with its deep dark fruity splendour, but this tasting box is perfect to discover the range.

Best digestif

MAURY 1928 SOLERA CASK NO 873 LES VIGNERONS DE MAURY (17%) 50cl, £19.95, Liquid demerara sugar, as silky and pure as prunes with thrilling zing, this is the ultimate contemplation wine. Spot-on for a festive digestif.

Best craft beer

BEAK BREWERY SELF-PORTRAIT PALE ALE (4.5%), £4.60, Bulging with tasty tropical refreshment, this craft beer is my go-to this season. Fab with cold cuts or turkey curry.

Best rosé champagne

LAURENT-PERRIER ROSÉ NV (12%), £62, Sainsbury’s. Bang on song right now – purity, vivacity, complexity and quality. Immense, iconic and delivers on all levels.

Best cognac

CHEVALIER COGNAC VS (40%), £15.49, Aldi. As at home in your glass as it is laced into brandy butter, this is a little bit of luxury without breaking the bank.

Best Bloody Mary

BLOODY DRINKS BLOODY CLASSIC (6.3%), £13 for four, A cocktail in a can that tastes like the very best bar quality – incredible! The only thing you need in the fridge for the easiest, tastiest Bloody Mary on the planet.

Food styling: Emily Kyd. Props styling: Jennifer Kay. Photographer’s assistant: Sophie Bronze.