MOST of us are still preparing for Christmas but others apparently already have their eyes on New Year.
There’s no denying that for many, New Year’s Eve is the biggest party night of the year so here are some suggestions on which wines might help kick off your celebrations.
For revellers who like to flirt with a pretty fizz try Taste the Difference Pinot Rose, Italy (£6.99 from £10.49, until Jan 3, Sainsbury’s). Fresh and fruity but dry, serve this pretty sparkler with smoked salmon blinis for a pukka start to the evening.
Alternatively, for an authentic Italian spritzer, try mixing San Leo Prosecco Brut NV, Italy (£6.66 from £9.99, until Jan 24, Waitrose), with a splash of Aperol (£11.99, 70cl, Sainsbury’s). Extremely moreish, this saffron orange bitter will add a tingling burst to the freshest bubbles.
Rose wines aren’t just for summer quaffing and Les Maitres Vignerons de St Tropez, Saint Roch-les-Vignes Rose Cotes de Provence 2010, France (£7.99, Majestic) will bring some joie de vivre to the great year-end.
A blend of grenache and cinsault, it’s dry and elegant with pleasant peachy notes.
If you like the zippy taste of a sauvignon blanc, why not try a white rioja for a change? Faustino V Blanco Sin Crianza 2009, Spain (£8.99, www.ocado.com ) is the bedrock of Spanish wine, and this crowd-pleasing white comes highly recommended.
Crisp and earthy with a refreshing core of white grapefruit and a fresh, mineral streak, it’s robust and food-friendly enough to compliment a grazing menu of tapas, spicy finger food, cold meats and hams.
It’s not always easy to find an all-purpose red, but the Loire Valley offers a one-stop shop for refreshingly fruity and youthful wines such as Les Nivieres 2010 Saumur, Loire, France (£7.99, Waitrose). A classic Saumur cabernet franc, it’s medium-bodied and raspberry-rich with good concentration of fruit and silky tannins. It’s delicious with simple appetisers and slices of goat’s cheese.
As midnight approaches, the night wouldn’t be complete without some added sparkle to ring in the new year and sentimental tunes of Auld Lang Syne. Offering unbeatable value, Tesco has a real corker with its Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£14.99, from £19.99, until Jan 3, Tesco).
A previous silver medal winner, the classy blend of premier cru chardonnay and grand cru pinot noir has good structure, weight and delicious toasty notes to give it enough staying power to stand up to the occasion.
For champagne lovers who prefer a major house champagne, the light and refreshing style of Lanson Black Label NV (£25, special offer, Majestic) has everything one looks for in a fine champagne.
One of the few houses that crafts its wines in the traditional non-malolactic style (no oak influence), the blend of chardonnay and pinot noir has great balance, a creamy texture and a brilliant freshness on the honeyed, yeasty finish.
One of the few family-owned Grandes Marques (big brands), the house of Taittinger produces vintage treasures such as Decanter gold medal winner Taittinger Brut Millesime 2004 (£35, special offer, Majestic).
Suitable for a grand gala, or an intimate midnight toast, this divine champers is a 50/50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. Hugely appealing and deliciously rich with intriguing biscuity aromas, pure citrus fruit and a sweeping finish, it’s powerful enough to carry all your hopes and dreams for 2012.
If you’re thirsty for a special occasion white, or want to treat someone over the holiday season, try Casa Silva Quinta Generacion White 2009 (£15, www.barrelsandbottles.co.uk ). A Chilean beauty from this champion winemaker, Casa Silva’s latest release is a sauvignon blanc and chardonnay dominant blend. Rich, elegant and bursting with tropical fruit, it’s a stunning vino with oysters, scallops or lobster.
Supermarket own-label-winning wine... A must for top tables on New Year’s Day, Morrisons Best Australian Chardonnay 2007 (£7.99, Morrisons) has been voted the top match with smoked salmon, and best match for less than £10 by the judges at What Food What Wine? For epicureans, Ayala Brut Nature Champagne Zero Dosage (no sugar added) (£25, Morrisons) was voted best wine with smoked salmon for more than £10. For the full list of results, visit www.whatfoodwhatwine.comi