Olly Smith's favourite Christmas drinks

Updated on 23 October 2019 | 0 Comments

Drinks expert Olly Smith reveals what he'll be drinking over Christmas and his love for all things James Bond.

TV presenter, wine expert and brewery (part-)owner Olly Smith certainly knows his drinks. 

His book Wine: Both Barrels gives you everything you need to know about wine from what to drink and how to spot a bargain, to what foods to match it with and tips galore. Both Barrels is designed to share the fun of wine and give you the knowledge to conquer the wine aisle. Wine is all about enjoyment, and this collection of Olly’s tips and know-how inspired by Olly's weekly wine column for the Mail on Sunday will help you get the very best out of your vino. Huzzah!

We caught up with him to find out about his favourite festive tipples and more. For more on matching food and wine and Olly's James Bond obsession, watch the video above.

Christmas dinner

"I love Christmas. Aside from the usual dilemma of whether to go turkey, goose, beef, turbot or fly in the face of tradition and rock with a curry, I love the opportunity to share the good times and great wines with friends and family. The last few years at Christmas we’ve deployed a new tactic of formal Christmas lunch with hoards of chums on Christmas Eve, followed by a really simple Christmas lunch on the big day so that we can all relax and spend time stuffing each other at Monopoly."

Get the beers in

"But choreography aside, Christmas is the moment to embrace the world of top drinks and share them with the people you love most. I adore wine, it’s brilliant with a huge range of flavours and food pairings to explore and revel in.

"But I’m also a huge fan of beer – I even part-own a brewery! The Rocky Head began pumping its Pale Ale this summer and it’s been fantastic to be a small part of the revival of craft brewing in this country. Our beer is a modern hoppy ale inspired by the west coast beers of the USA and you can find it in Selfridges if you fancy a cool delicious sip. Beers at Christmas are a must.

"I’m a fan of Harveys, my local brewery in Sussex, for their dark beers such as Prince of Denmark (Supreme Champion at this year’s International Beer Challenge), but I also love the work of modern craft breweries such as Meantime and Thornbridge for their fruity full-on appeal."

Great with curry

"This Christmas when you’re diving into turkey curry on Boxing Day, head to Waitrose and grab yourself a bottle of Thornbridge Jaipur IPA (£2.40) which pairs brilliantly with spicy food thanks to its intensity and full-on power-tang. It’s like a beer has been hooked up to the power of an F16 Fighter Jet and then flown right into your face."

Festive fizz and cider

"Where vino is concerned, you don’t need to spend a fortune. For good value bubbly, Tesco Cava Brut is just £4.99 with a spark of upbeat zing, or go for a really classy Prosecco. I found a gorgeous one at Jeroboams.co.uk which is down from £16.95 to £12.95 from 2nd November, etch this into your diary: Col Vetoraz Prosecco Extra Dry 2011 Valdobbiadene. It's got a sherbet buzz, sublimely invigorating fruit flavour and a real sense of finesse.

"For cider, one of the most refreshing I’ve tasted this year was the home brew from the boys at sparklingenglishwine.com – they’re calling it Cyder and it may not be released yet but hound their website until they do."

Reds and whites

"For still wines, Marks and Spencers have a lovely white called Rincón del Sol from Argentina which is a cunning blend of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Perfect for parties. If you want a white to splash out on, leap over to slurp.co.uk and snatch a bottle of Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – made by the same chap who made Cloudy Bay for years but has now set up on his own. The 2012 vintage is tasting as fresh and pure as the crystal font in Citrus Cathedral.

"For reds, my wine of the year has got to be Cuvée Chasseur 2011 from Waitrose. Total bargain at around a fiver, mellow, juicy, and perfect as a kitchen table red or for a posh Sunday lunch. Genius vino. For a bit more hoof in your glass, Majestic have got Leyda Reserva Syrah 2010 from Chile which is a belter – full of flavour with a kick of spice to make Bruce Lee proud."

Wee drams

"For a warming winter spirit, whisky is the way – Dalwhinnie 15 year old is amazing if you bung it in the freezer (with a couple of tumblers to chill too) and serve after a meal with dark chocolate. It’s a trick taught to me at the distillery by the Master Distiller himself and it’s stunning.

"And if you’ve got any wine questions, I’ll do my utmost to help, you can find me on Twitter @jollyolly or lurking online at my website ollysmith.com – I’d love to raise a virtual glass together. Cheers!"

This interview was originally published in 2012

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