Sam Wylie-Harris picks the best sweet and fortified wines for Christmas Day
Christmas means many things to many people, but there’s one thing most of us can agree on… those little surprises you serve at the end of dinner are just as scrumptious as the starters and bits in-between.
And to take those festive desserts and cheeseboards to the next level, you’ll want a wine that doesn’t fall flat, and can perfectly complement the complex flavours or chime with the irresistible sweetness.
For a lasting impression, these sweet and fortified wines will take you to the finish line…
1. Tesco Finest Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Jerez, Spain, 37.5cl, currently £5 (was £6), Tesco
You don’t need a sweet tooth to appreciate the utter deliciousness of this toothsome wine. Rich and refined, with raisin and fig aromas, its silky smoothness lets the syrupy, honeyed, raisiny fruit shine.
Served well chilled, you could happily sip this PX all night – but then there wouldn’t be enough left to drizzle over Christmas pud ice cream. Yummy!
2. Morrisons The Best Oloroso Sherry, Jerez, Spain, 37.5cl, currently £5.50 (was £6.25), Morrisons
An outstanding oloroso that tastes out of this world, this top drop is rich, smoky and nutty.
Really moreish, pair with mature cheeses such as gruyère or comté, and given its caramel aromas and bold flavours of roasted nuts allied with a touch of toffee, it’ll round off the sweet and salty notes of the cheese beautifully.
3. M&S L’Or du Ciron Sauternes 2010, Bordeaux, France, 37.5cl, £13, Marks & Spencer stores
A merry measure for sure, this golden elixir will complement a well-laced trifle with fresh fruit, vanilla custard and cream. Pure nectar, with delightful aromas of apricot and orange, the palate’s richly textured with layers of honey, orange blossom and exotic candied fruits.
The perfect balance of sweetness and richness, it’ll contrast beautifully with the salty savouriness of Roquefort too.
4. R de Romer du Hayot 2016, Bordeaux, France, 37.5cl, £13.49, Laithwaite’s
Another succulent sticky that’s concentrated with deep aromas of barley sugar, pear and honeycomb, the luscious, layered profile of exotic fruits tastes rich and intense, with a touch of acidity balancing it out beautifully. Harmonious with a long, lingering finish, serve with a smooth pâté, blue cheese, or tarte tatin with whipped cream for the final flourish.
5. Fletcher’s Fine Ruby Port, Portugal, 75cl, £6.49, Aldi
This ruby port (a non-vintage, youthful style) is a gem of a glass and a real crowd-pleaser. Porto-licious and fabulously fruity, lifted scents of ripe red berries lead to baskets of sweet red cherry flavours boosted by a rich, concentrated palate with hints of winter spice. A winner with mince pies and brandy butter or chocolate desserts, and downright delicious on its own.
6. Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Port, Portugal, 37.5cl, £14.99, Majestic
A real little cracker, this blend from several vintages has everything you could ask for in a port. Beautifully engaging and boasting a bouquet of blackberry, black cherry, cassis and plummy aromas, it’s full bodied and voluptuous with plump vine fruits galore. A perfect combo with firm goats cheese – the sweetness plays beautifully against the saltiness of the cheese – it also tastes heavenly with fruity desserts and dark chocolate.
7. Churchill’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015, Portugal, 75cl, £23, Harvey Nichols
Simply stunning, this LBV (late bottled vintage) chimes with Christmas pudding, as well as tasting out of this world with blue cheese – especially Stilton. Think steeped violet and blackberry aromas, flavours of beautifully interwoven berries, dark chocolate covered raisins, accents of warm spice and a velvety smooth finish. Rich, concentrated and utterly drinkable, you’ll wonder why you don’t pour port more often.
Churchill’s have also launched a new subscription club, so you’ll never be without a glass of port to enjoy. For a last-minute Christmas pressie, or to learn more about one of Portugal’s greatest exports, visit Port.club.
Port is a much loved Christmas favourite
Little surprises you serve at the end of dinner are just as scrumptious as the starters and bits in-between