The best wine, fizz, spirits and cocktails for party season 2022

The time is almost upon us to pop corks and raise our glasses to another year. Here’s award-winning drinks editor Susy Atkins’ choice of the best wines, fizz, spirits and cocktails for the Christmas and New Year festivities. She tasted many bottles to find them – and every single one meets with her approval… Cheers!

The best wine, fizz, spirits and cocktails for party season 2022

Best festive party fizz

Arestel Cava Brut NV, Catalonia, Spain 11.5%

Snappy and dry, with a crisp green apple note and light toastiness. Decent cava and, at this eye-catching price, a perfect refreshing crowdpleaser. Made in the traditional Champagne method, with 9-10 months ageing in the bottle. Available from Lidl (£5.49).


Tesco Sweet Asti 2021, Piedmont, Italy 7%

Here’s a honeyed sparkler to pair with fruit desserts, cream cakes and meringues (it’s a little light for Christmas pud). Frothy, and it actually tastes of green grapes – sugared and chilled. Very low in alcohol too. Available from Tesco (£5.75).


Crémant du Jura 2019, France 12%

Clementines, lemons and a note of tea biscuit mingle in this appealing crémant from eastern France. It’s dry, and made from 100% chardonnay grapes using the Champagne method. Consistently the best fizz under £10 on the high street. Available from Aldi (£8.99).


Boschendal Brut NV, Western Cape, South Africa 12%

On a tempting offer, this new Cape sparkler is made from chardonnay and pinot noir, bottle-aged for a year before release. It’s lively and bright, with a whistle-clean citrus streak and some creamy richness to stand up to savoury party snacks. Available from selected Waitrose stores and Waitrose Cellar (£16.99, down to £10 from 30 Nov to 1 Jan).


Louis Vallon Crémant de Bordeaux Blanc de Noirs NV, France 12%

This was made from the clear juice of two red grapes, merlot and cabernet franc, so red berries mingle with citrus on the palate and there’s a richer fresh bread hint, too. Finishing dry, it’s a classy crémant that will give many traditional champagnes a run for their money. Available from Sainsbury’s (£15).


Balfour Estate Classic Cuvée NV, Kent, England 12%

If you’re splashing out, pick this English fizz, another made using the Champagne method. Based on chardonnay with three other grapes, all grown in Kent vineyards, it’s mouthwatering, tangy and crisp – but there’s a delectable layer of raspberry yogurt in there too. Exquisite! £22, Marks & Spencer.


Best ready-to-drink cocktails

Infusionist Makrut Lime & Chilli Margarita 20%

From Aldi’s new cocktail range, this intense margarita is rich and sweet, but the tang of lime and peppery chilli balance it nicely. Available from Aldi (£9.99 for 500ml).


Longbottom & Co Bloody Mary 6.1%

Rich and satisfying, with olives and capers as well as vegan worcester sauce, natural tomato juice and, of course, vodka. Available from Longbottom (£3 for 250ml).

Bloody Mary

NIO Cocktails Christmas in Manhattan 23.9%

‘Letterbox’ cocktails in pouches that slip niftily through your door? Excellent. This take on a manhattan is made with Bulleit bourbon, Cocchi sweet vermouth, Bols white crème de cacao and Angostura bitters. Available from Nio Cocktails (£19.50 for 3 x 100ml servings, plus £3 delivery).


Tom Savano Sydney Twilight Espresso Martini 20%

Packs a coffee punch with a bitter hint, then smooths it over with a seam of dark chocolate and rich vanilla. Fresh, balanced and natural. Available from Tom Savano (£12 for 200ml or £27 for 500ml).

Espresso martini

Mindful Mixology Lychee Martini 14.4%

Delicate lychee and floral notes, made with English vodka, dry vermouth, camomile and verbena. A worthy three stars in the Great Taste 2022 awards. Available from Mindful Mixology (£10.99 for 250ml).


Moth Negroni 14.9%
A small can, but plenty of punchy flavour with its balanced blend of gin, vermouth and amaro herbal liqueur. Clever grown-up stocking filler. £3.90 for 125ml, Tesco; £3.99 for 125ml, Waitrose*


Splash-out spirits

Tappers Darkside Coastal Gin, Merseyside, England 39.6%

From a relatively new family-owned distillery, Darkside has unusual savoury, herbal notes from foraged coastal botanicals including sea beet, red clover and chickweed. There’s a powerful juniper finish, and tonic water really brings out the salty iodine. Available from Master of Malt (£28.45 for 70cl).

Tapper's gin

Colwith Farm Aval Dor Christmas Pudding Vodka, Cornwall, England 40%

Cleverly crafted, with flavours of clove, cinnamon and orange peel, but not as sweet as the name implies – finishes fresh and slightly peppery. Serve it neat over ice. Available from Master of Malt (£41.95 for 70cl,), or Colwith Farm Distillery (£29 for 35cl).


The Best LBV Port 2016, Douro, Portugal 20%

Plums and raisins galore, a dab of dark chocolate and enough body and tannin to take on a cheeseboard. Available from Morrisons (£11.50 for 75cl).

Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino Sherry, Jerez, Spain

The much-loved pale, dry sherry is on very good form with preserved lemon, green olives and a yeasty character – and this offer is eye-catching. The ultimate aperitif. Widely available; £10.99 for 75cl, down to £8.99 from 30 Nov to 1 Jan, Waitrose.


Gattertop Damson Liqueur No.12, Herefordshire, England 23%

Made from farm-grown damsons steeped in vodka for a year, this ruby-hued liqueur is a star – aromatic and juicy, but not too sweet. Sip it with a slice of Cheddar or add sparkling wine for an instant cocktail. Available from Gattertop Drinks (£35 for 70cl), and Master of Malt (£30.74).

Mount Gay Triple Cask XO Rum, Barbados 43%

Velvet-smooth ‘extra old’ blended rum aged in whiskey, bourbon and cognac barrels. Rounded, rich and multi-layered – look out for fig, creamy vanilla, wood-spice, demerara and cloves among others. £54.95 for 70cl,

Mount Gay rum

Bargain spirits

Waitrose Three Year Old French Brandy 36%

Use it in cocktails, sip neat on the rocks or (of course) splash it over the Christmas pud and set alight. Here’s a decent budget buy, mellow with orange peel, butterscotch and wood-spice character. Available from Waitrose (£13.50 for 70cl; £7.25 for 35cl).


M&S Distilled London Dry Gin, Oldbury, England 40%

Marks & Spencer launched its Distilled range in the autumn and it includes great-value buys. This juniper-led, bold and scented gin with a citrus streak is spot on for gin-based cocktails. Smart bottle, too, so it makes a great present. Available from M&S (£18 for 70cl).


Irresistible 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky 40%

The Co-op’s own label single malt won a silver medal in the International Wine & Spirit Competition, which at this low price is impressive. It’s rich, aromatic and smooth, with prunes and pepper among the nuances. Good offer, too. Available from The Co-op (£26.25, down to £22 from 30 Nov until 3 Jan).


Best red wines for Christmas dinner

Finest Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2019, Italy 13.5%

Easy-going red with tangy red cherries and a hint of almond. Not oaky or too heavy, so it works with roast turkey. Worthy winner of the International Wine Challenge’s Great Value Red Under £8 this year. Available from Tesco (£7).

Journey’s End Cabernet Franc 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa 14%

A gem made in the Western Cape from cabernet franc, usually grown in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Here it turns out a nicely rounded red full of raspberries and redcurrants, ripe but with an elegant soft finish. Available from Tanners (£16.60).

Journeys End

Best white wines for Christmas dinner

Lidl Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2021, Australia 13%

Bright, sunny and full of juicy tropical fruit like mango and pineapple, with just a subtle lick of oak to add a toasty note. Stands up well to a roast bird (and salmon if you’re having it). Available from Lidl, £6.49.

White wine

EH Booth & Co White Burgundy,2021, France 13%

Beautifully balanced white Burgundy from the southern Mâcon region, lifted with a citrus streak, but richer and rounded on the finish with a buttery dab. A super choice for roast turkey or chicken. Available from Booths (£12.50).


Best soft drinks for Christmas

Nozeco Sparkling NV, France 0.5%
Fresh and peachy no-alch fizz. It’s on the sweet side, so best chilled for fruit salads and other light desserts. Available from Morrisons (£3.79 for 75cl).

Morrisons Nozeco

M&S Ginger & Cayenne Pepper Cordial

Pleasantly peppery cordial with natural lemon and ginger flavours. Don’t dilute as much as suggested – I went for one part to two or three of water. Available from Ocado (£3 for 500ml).


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