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Merry Christmas to you all
"If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!" Ebeneezer Scrooge
We love Christmas in our household. The tree goes up on the 1st of December, decorations too. Mince Pies and sherry are in constant supply throughout the month. Log fires, the smell of the tree, carol singing and clementines. It was, however, starting to feel as though some of the magic of present buying was dying out. Sitting in front of a computer screen, selecting presents based on stars out of five. It doesn't feel very, well, Christmassy.
This year my wife and I took the decision to bypass online purchasing and go out Christmas shopping. Proper Christmas Shopping, like we did in the old days. When a climate crisis was discovering that it was going to rain for your entire summer holiday, Whatsapp was the apparently hilarious tagline for a beer commercial and naming anything somethingMcsomethingface was punishable by death. Ah, better times.
We gamely set off to our local high street with our bags at the ready (canvas ones of course, so we could roll our eyes condescendingly at the people who dared use plastic). And, with my bag for life clutched tightly in one hand and my shopping bags in the other, off we went. We had a lovely time frequenting small, independent shops. We chatted to amicable, interesting, honest, hard working people. We even stopped off for a roast turkey pub lunch, siiting in front of a log fire with a glass of fizz. It was fun!
The fun was brought to an abrupt halt when we had to stop off at a supermarket on the way home to buy loo roll. Trolleys spilling over with more food than it would be possible for the population of Texas to consume in a lifetime; a plethora of gluttonous and gut-vandalizing seasonal paraphenalia. But looking closer a grim truth began to reveal itself. These same trolleys that spewed festive gubbins all about the supermarket aisles and no doubt in aisles across the land were still sporting the same old cheap wines. The absolute maximum of indulgence seemed to be whatever recognsible wine brand had been discounted or, at a stretch, a bottle of Moet or Veuve.
For folk who appeared more than happy to break their credit cards on turkish delight, wierd sticky, dried fruits and mountains of nuts which will no doubt sit in the fruit bowl untouched until someone decides to throw them away mid-April this was not a budget issue. Why not, I thought, return one of the ten packs of After Eights and spend that extra two or three pounds on what is arguably for wine lovers the centre piece of the Christmas table? (Oh shut up Turkeys, you can't take all the limelight). A couple of quid extra on a bottle can go an awfully long way. Better still, if you are lucky enough to have a quality independent wine merchant nearby you should receieve the added extras of sage advice, a more interesting selection of wines and an actually pleasant shopping experience that doesn't involve getting lost in the carnage of trolleys and aisles with the screams of belligerent toddlers ringing in your ears.
Go on, get out there on your local high street. It feels a sight more wholesome giving your money to someone who is operating their own business and is genuinely grateful, knowledgeable and passionate about what lines their shelves. And if you counter that you don't like Christmas shopping then I say maybe you too have forgtten how to do it right and, if you still do not agree, then I say Bah! Humbug! to you. Come on, don't be a wine scrooge this year.
Merry Christmas to everybody and a Happy New Year to all the world!
Wines worth splashing that little extra on (and all part of our Christmas offers):
Albourne Estate Blanc de Noirs 2013 (Sussex)
It's got bubbles, a bit of bottle age, is fashioned from Pinot Noir grown in very limited quantities in The South Downs and it is less than twenty quid. No need to look across the channel when this is happening in your back garden.
Montsable Chardonnay 2018 (Languedoc)
£8.96 when buying a case! No need to break the bank here. Refreshing, poised Chardonnay with beautifully rounded stone fruits flavours and a kiss of spicy oak.
Izadi Rioja Reserva 2014 (Rioja)
If you would generally spend about a tenner on a nice bottle of wine, be brave and take the step up. £13.46 when bought in a case. This is benchmark modern Rioja. Layered, textured. Oak and fruit in singing harmoniously from the same carol sheet.. It has a sort of savoury Black Forest Gateau character that makes it absolutely and delectably moreish. Rrrr.