festive tableChristmas lunch is a tricky business. Because in any large gathering you can be sure that there will be no one set of wine likes and dislikes. So getting in wine made with the well-known fruity grape varieties of Shiraz or Chardonnay is a good idea in a mixed crowd.

Aussie Shiraz, with its high alcohol content and slightly sweet flavour, will please most red wine liking palates while a Chilean white will reward those wanting buttery flavours with their beef and roast potatoes.

roseFor those who can’t decide between red or white let them have rosé. Because chilled rosés are light, but still flavourful, and are ideal for matching subtle seasonal dishes. Lightly roasted chicken will compliment the strawberry flavours of a classic Anjou rosé, while the raspberry aromas commonly found in Merlot rosés enhances both salmon and vegetarian dishes.

There is nearly always space for the Christmas pudding to end the repast. A creamy tasting wine with additional lemon and lime acidity is what is needed here to help cleanse the palate and wash down the pudding – Spanish cava or Blanquette de Limoux make a tasty and spectacular meal ending.

PG Wine Tips

£3.99 and under

There are still some good bottles to be found that cost the same as a couple of National Lottery tickets.

Sainsbury’s House Dry White, 11.5% alcohol
£3.49 Sainsbury’s

A non-descript bottle hides a complex wine. Initially tasting of grapefruit when first opened this wine mellows to melon, pear, apple and mandarin. A great match to main meals with rich sauces.

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

Spar French Vins de Pays D’Oc Sauvignon Blanc
£5.35 Spar

Gooseberry and grapefruit with added melon for sweetness. Ideal match to roast chicken with all the trimmings.

Spar Australian Reserve Shiraz
£5.35 Spar

Deep aromas of prunes and cocoa are matched to flavours of blackberry, cocoa and liquorice. Match to roast beef or mushroom stroganoff.

strawberryMarks and Spencer French Gascogne Cuvée Speciale Rosé
£5.49 Marks and Spencer

Best Rosé Wine of 2010. This is a traditional strawberry tasting rosé with enough body to match curries and left-over meat topped with mayonnaise.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Villa Maria New Zealand East Coast Pinot Grigio
£6.74 Waitrose (down from £8.99 until January 4)

This wine’s bubblegum aroma hits you as soon as the screwcap is loosened. Flavours of peardrops and mandarin segments follow. Great match to roast meats or battered fish.

Aldi Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura sparkling Chardonnay
£6.99 Aldi

A good choice of sparkling if you like them sharp. Apple, lemon and grapefruit flavours.

Caliterra wineCaliterra Chilean Tributo Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier
£12.99 Oddbins

You’ll get a lot of flavour and alcohol for your money, but it’s worth it. Within the 14.5% alcohol you’ll find blackcurrant and chocolate covered coffee bean flavours with added cumin. Wonderful stuff.

This article has appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on Mature Times

Harveys labelEveryone loves a glass of Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry. So stock up with a 1-litre bottle at Asda for only £7.00 (down from £10.06), £8.00 at Sainsbury’s (down from £10.30 until December 7th) and £8.00 at Ocado (down from £10.29). Within the traditional blue bottle you'll find flavours of raisin and brown sugar to meet all Christmas pie and trifle-soaking needs.

trophyNot Wines of the Week but Wines of the Year this time. Of the many bottles opened and tasted this year 170 wines were rejected as not meeting the high standards of outstanding value and taste this blog strives for, while only 48 made it to the short list. From these the final ten most outstanding wines of 2010 were selected.

decanterPort is the wine match of choice for Christmas cake and other seasonal puddings and pastries. But all port tastes sweet, the fortifying dose of brandy sees to that. Adding neat, naturally sweet, alcohol to a normal Portuguese table wine lifts the alcohol level to around the 20 per cent level and increases the rich flavours of the resulting drink.