Oz Clarke's top wine picks this Christmas

By Louisa Emery on December 18, 2012 11:34 AM |

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Wine expert Oz Clarke showed his support for supermarket wines and hinted at the tipples that will be weighing down his table on Christmas Day when he popped into Waitrose on Friday.

The broadcaster and writer was in Canary Wharf to sign copies of the latest editions of The Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book 2013 and Oz Clarke, My Top Wines For 2013.

He said: "The wine world changes very fast these days. The digital world has revolutionised the world of wine. People say they want to put a vineyard somewhere and within three years they have their first crop.

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"In the past people wouldn't go outside classic areas but now there are excellent vineyards within 25 miles of the Wharf. Bits of France, Spain and Portugal are being rediscovered and the new world - Australia, New Zealand and Chile - is all about finding new vineyards."

It's a tough job but someone has got to do it and Oz has compiled a handbook of his favourite wines. While prices have been particularly competitive in the supermarkets this year, he said that was all about to change.

He said: "Top wines For 2013 is a mix of supermarket, high street and independent sellers as well as a few online. They are priced from £2.79 to £25 with the majority between £6 and £12. There's a lot of fantastic drinking in this area.

"If minimum pricing comes in next year those under £4 will disappear. Asda and Sainsbury's do a Cotes Du Rhone for £3.69 and Waitrose have one for just over £4 that is really nice to drink.

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"They have been able to keep these prices because there has been an excess of wine but next year there will be at least a pound added to every bottle because 2012 is the smallest vintage since 1975. Much of the world has seen a drought whereas in this country the problem has been rain, wind and more rain,"

With wine as vital a part of Christmas dinner as turkey and Brussels sprouts, Oz had some suggestions for getting it right in the grape department this year.

"At Christmas time go for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - that is the wine that drains quickest at my mother's table," he said.

For a last hurrah for 2012 you should be drinking a bottle of English sparking wine, invented in London 350 years ago this Christmas.

"The French say they invented champagne but it took them another 30 or 40 years to work out how to put the bubbles in. Chilean reds are the most reliable.

"They have more flavour and fruit than other countries for the same price. You can get some good stuff for £6 but at Christmas you should spend a bit more. The big mistake people make is spending £20 on something completely new and then finding they don't like it."

Oz has been on tour with his Three Wise Men shows alongside Olly Smith and Tim Atkin. He's also been talking to the BBC and James May about a new show for 2013.

Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book 2013 (£11.99) and My Top Wines 2013 (£7.99) are published by Pavillion.