From 'fresh' £6 whites to Champagne for £14 – wine expert Jilly Goolden tests the best Christmas booze

IT’S time to raise a toast to Christmas – with these supermarket corkers.

But if you are left scratching your head in the drinks aisle, our festive tipple guide is here to save the day.

Wine expert Jilly Goolden gives her verdict on reds, whites, fizz and ports and dishes out awards for the best.

Whites for under £10

Asda Extra Special Cotes de Gascogne, £6

NOSE in glass and it’s a bit porridgey, with a scent like muesli.

Then a surprise on the taste – it’s very fresh and lemony with almost a saltiness to it, nutty and characterful. Even a bit lavendery.

Tesco Finest Gavi, £8.50


A GREAT example of a classic Italian white, with a heady bouquet like fudge.

The texture is remarkable – lissom and silky. 

The flavour is mouth-filling with a little geranium note plus zesty lemon.


M&S Cotes du Rhone Blanc Les Remparts 2020, £8


I LOVE Rhone whites. This is a great one with scents of tangerine and a hint of simmering marmalade.

Flavours are apricot, preserved orange and almond, with a hit of lemon to finish.

Co-op Irresistible Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc, £8

BIG, fat simmering gooseberries on the nose and it tastes intensely gooseberry-like as well, though perhaps too much of a good thing unless you’re in love with gooseberries!

A big statement wine, but too overpowering for Christmas dins.

Morrisons The Best Alto Adige Pinot Grigio, £10


 HAS a delicate scent of boiled sweets and freesias then deliciously fruity to taste in a mouth-filling, tongue-coating way.

Cork and shoulders better than most pinot grigios, it’s a class act and worth the extra.

Aldi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, £9.99

A DISTINCTIVE New Zealand sauvignon blanc – the world’s blueprint for this grape.

Good fleshy gooseberry flavours but a slick of chalkiness spoils it and it ends with a plasticky suggestion so could be better.

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Coteaux du Giennois Blanc, £10

A SAUVIGNON blanc from the Loire Valley with a sting in its tail.

Sharp and nettley on the nose then grassy and relentlessly lemony to taste – like swigging pure lemon juice.

Maybe good with oily fish, but otherwise too astringent to enjoy.

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Reds for under £10

Asda Extra Special Chianti Classico, £7

It would hold its own with anything!

SMELLS of tea leaves left at the bottom of the pot with a hint of rusty iron. But a wow on the taste with rear mouth-filling flavours of cherry and blackberry with a hint of violet. 

It would hold its own with anything! 

Direct and thrusting, it is a good choice if you’re serving game or goose.

Tesco Finest Signargues Cotes du Rhone Villages, £8 

THIS wine needs opening for a while to taste its best.

Then it smells of violets with a slight Ribena note.

The flavour is spicy-fruity, reminiscent of mulling wine spices, and the harsh green tea notes at the back of the flavour soften miraculously as the wine sits in the glass.

Fruity but very dry.

M&S Classics Malbec 2019, £8


THIS is why Malbec is such a winner. 

It’s highly scented like a carnation room diffuser with a tiny smidgeon of paraffin stove about it.

 To taste, it has rich velvety loganberry fruit, the intensity of “fruit leathers”.

Nutty, intense and voluptuous.

Co-op Indomita Gran Reserva Carignan, £6.50

BIG, chunky simmering dark-skinned fruits invite you in to this generously fruity wine with a faint medicinal edge.

Baked crumble fruit flavours hold their own with a slightly challenging tough streak. 

Overall it’s invitingly likeable.

Morrisons The Best Chianti Classico, £9

THE bouquet is like sniffing a bag of cherries, but then you taste it and it becomes a cross between stewed tea and slightly unripe blackberries.

It has a lingering flavour but a bit sharp and acidic for a gathering.

Aldi Specially Selected Crozes-Hermitage, £9.99

A CLASSIC Rhone red with a whiff of Liquorice Allsorts and roast lamb and moss. 

To taste, it has wallops of ­concentrated raspberries and blueberries and a hint of sloe.

The fragrant flavour, however, finishes with a harsh edge.

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Faugeres Grenache Syrah, £9

AN inky dark wine with a sweet rose petal scent then a highly perfumed boudoir flavour with fruit and a tinge of almond.

Then, thud! It was going so well but finishes like lime chewing on banana skins.

Good with roast beef.

Fizz for under £15

Asda Extra Special Organic Prosecco Brut, £7

TWO good things about the label: Organic – which means they’ve taken special care – and brut, which means dry as opposed to all other proseccos.

It’s very delicate and faintly floral on the nose. A very feminine, elegant wine with a suggestion of peach and gardenia. Very good price too.

Tesco Finest Prosecco, £8

A RUN-of-the-mill prosecco. Smells grassy and ferny with a flavour of Murray Mints without the mint.

There’s a clean, citrusy streak running through the flavour adding freshness, though it has a sour smack at the end of the flavour.

M&S Classics Cremant de Bourgogne NV, £10


THIS is made using the same superior labour-intensive method as champagne and has delicate bubbles as a result.

There are gentle blossom, citrus and kiwi flavours involved in the bosomy peachiness of this fizz.

It’s soft and creamy without sharp edges.

Co-op Maison Du Vin Cremant de Loire, £12


BIG chunky bubbles – not fine but that doesn’t take away from the honeyed nose and mouth-filling and generous texture. The flavour is appley with a delightful tinge of bluebell scent rippling through.

Delicious and dry.

Morrisons The Best Prosecco DOCG, £10

THIS one boasts all the credentials available to prosecco, but disappoints.

Despite a suggestion of sweet clover on the nose and celery hints on the palate, it’s actually a bit sour and mouth-puckering – not a good look for a party.

Aldi Veuve Monsigny Champagne, £13.99

A CHAMPAGNE scrapes in under the price ceiling!

It has a yeasty baking-bread scent and fleshy peach and brioche flavours.

A classic ­champagne, though a little rough at the edges.

Time will iron that out with luck.

Buy to put under the bed!

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Conegliano Prosecco, £8

THERE’S a touch of Alka Seltzer to the bouquet and a slight whiff of dahlias.

The floral suggestion continues into the flavour which is petally – a little like lemon sherbert in the glass.

It has personality – unlike many proseccos – and is off-dry (denoted as extra dry on the label).

Ports forunder £20

Asda Extra Special LBV Port, £11

DENSELY dark, this late bottled vintage port spends time in the cask before being bottled and delivers delightfully.

It has a whiff of roasting chestnuts and horse hoof trimmings.

It is strongly flavoured with dark berries and a suggestion of dark chocolate and nuts.

Tesco Finest Vintage Port 2003, £20


THIS is the real McCoy! Aged in the bottle for 18 years, it is starting to show its age round the edges.

The bouquet is chestnuts overlaid by a faint whiff of a swamp.

The dark berry fruit is still youthful and vivid but is slightly overwhelmed by the jab of alcohol.

M&S Classics No 41 Finest Reserve Port NV, £11

THIS comes from the renowned Taylor’s cellars and is a class act. 

It has the scent of a fruit tea but once tasted is beautifully smooth. 

The rich ­simmering red berry fruit marries perfectly with the alcohol.

A very well integrated, superior ruby port.

Co-op Ruby Port, £7.75

 THIS port is outclassed here. 

A meaty gravy-like nose leads encouragingly to a flavour of intense blackberry fruit.

But it’s sweet and tart, unbalanced by the harsh spirituous kick from the alcohol.

It’s unbalanced, but would be a good addition to a mulled wine.

Morrisons The Best Tawny Port, £11 

TAWNY port is aged in oak barrels, not in the bottle, and gets its conker colour from that.

The age is the average age of the ports in the blend.

The scent is headily nutty, like pulverised walnuts and Christmas pudding combined.

It’s rich but serious, like a killer creme brulee.

Aldi Ten Year Tawny Port, £10 

THIS tawny conjures up the heat of the Douro Valley where it comes from – hot hillsides and parched earth.

Then, once you taste, it is unctuously smooth with hazelnut and cream flavours supported by a backbone of strong alcohol.

Waitrose No 1 Reserve Tawny Port from Symington, £10.99

THIS isn’t as pungent as you expect a tawny port to be. It gives little away on the bouquet and the palate lacks the richness you hope for, being rather harsh.

But there is a suggestion of dried fruit in the flavour, ending on an intense marmalade note. A bit sharp.

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