Half-sized bottles at

half bottles of champagneHalf bottles of wine at half the cost? Not necessarily so, unfortunately. Because so few vineyards put their wines in 375ml bottles the price of this handy single-sized portion never gets lowered by mass production and so remains at about two-thirds the price of its 750ml equivalent. But half bottles aren’t all bad – they do allow you to assess the maturing potential of many wines without the risk and all the cost.

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Sweet and sour wines for sweet and sour meals

Chinese takeaway signReceived wisdom says the naturally sweet-sour flavours of German white wines work best with Chinese food. Which helps with the food-wine matching for this evening’s celebration of the Chinese New Year, but really any wine you like will match, but a bit of sweetness helps.

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Reds: it's the polyphenols you know

Lindemans red wineDrinking a couple of glasses of red wine every day isn’t just enjoyable, it’s also good for you. Red wine is rich in chemicals called polyphenols. Research has shown that these compounds expand your blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow. They also fight hardening of your arteries, the major contributor to heart disease.

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Chardonnay offers

Chablis bottlesButtery, creamy, lemony, rich, sharp and biscuity are just a few of the flavours found in wines made with the Chardonnay grape. This multi-faceted grape variety can be found growing in hundreds of countries around the world, and there are just as many flavours to be found in the resulting wines. But you won’t have to buy an around the world ticket to taste them, all that is required is a quick trip to the supermarket where luckily you’ll find many on special offer.

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Should champagne's marketing men disappear

opened champagneUnless champagne's marketing men disappear, their sparkling wine will always be the first choice for celebrations. But many countries get their white wines to sparkle using the same techniques as those of champagne. But they can't say so on the label.

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Top Ten Roses of 2011

trophyTop Ten Rosé Wines of 2011 this week, and any one of them chilled makes an ideal partner to lighter Christmas meats such as turkey and cold ham. But darker coloured rosés, the result of soaking grape skins in the must for 3 days rather than 3 hours, could easily be mistaken for light reds and can cope with more robustly-flavoured meals like roast beef and mushroom stroganoff. So if you’re looking for a versatile wine that will please everyone then try a rosé from the top ten.

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Top Eight After Dinner Reds of 2011

trophyTop Eight After Dinner Red Wines of 2011 this week. That’s more than the promised five as a late surge in great tasting and great value wines was found to match the cheese and nuts course. All eight are deeply fruity and contain more alcohol than is usual in red wine - which describes exactly what Ruby and Tawny ports are about. But ports aren’t the only choice for after dinner reds.

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Maynard's Ports at Aldi

Maynard's Aged TawnyIf you want a similar flavour and experience to Croft's 1991 Vintage Port but at a sixth of the price then look no further than Maynard's ports on special offer this Christmas at Aldi. Maynard's Late Bottled Vintage 2007 is selling at £8.99 and the 10 years old Aged Tawny is a pound more at £9.99, but only while stocks last. And they won't last long because both ports have my vote as Bargains of the Week.

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Happy Anniversary with Croft 1991 Vintage Port

Croft 1991 Port labelIt’s Mature Times’ twentieth anniversary. And what better way to celebrate than by opening a bottle of port of the same vintage – Croft 1991 Vintage to be exact. Let’s see if it has matured as nicely.

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Top Ten Reds of 2011

trophyTop Ten Red Wines of 2011 this time including three at under a fiver, which should help things along this Christmas in these frugal times, and aromas that climb out of the glass and whack you one. And should you be able to splash out a bit more there are also more great value wines at around £8 and more at £12 and £13. So here they are in ascending price:

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