Wine glasses can be horrifically expensive and the cost multiplies if you buy one set for Bordeaux, another for White Burgundy et al.

The perfect solution is the Riedel Swirl glass which is a contoured tumbler that looks like an Eileen Gray Bibendum chair. White, red and sparkling wine are all at home and the absence of a stem means their life expectancy is greatly enhanced. Incidentally, more and more restaurants are serving Champagne in wine glasses rather than the old flute.

Sold individually they retail at about £12, if you can find them. However, the catering supply company Nisbetts will sell you a box of a dozen for £50; an absolute steal.

If you only want to purchase a few wine glasses then head to TK Maxx which at this time of year has a wide range, always discounted. It is also the best source of notebooks and diaries with Moleskine at less than half price.


The best present for someone interested in wine is unquestionably Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2022. Released at £12.99 and worth every penny, you may well find it for about a tenner. Enquire within about everything. Which were the best vintages of Rioja over the last decade? What wine best goes with Korean dishes or roast cauliflower? There then follows 280 pages of alphabetical entries for each significant wine producing country in the world. Clutching this treasure, D Regan found for £31 in Turin ‘the greatest Chardonnay made in Italy’ at a modest shop run by father and daughter.

When to buy

In the period between now and Christmas, most supermarkets will have promotions on from time to time. Most common is the ‘buy six and get 25% off’. This becomes a deadly serious proposition if you are in the market for something pricey. Over the summer it enabled one to go mad and buy a bottle of Krug Champagne at Waitrose with a reduction of £37.50.

Last year, Waitrose offered some smart individual bottles for £10 each, a reduction of perhaps one third. Be alert for these bargains.

Where to buy

Last year Morrisons was selling a half bottle of Bollinger for under £17, the lowest price we have seen in years. The same store is strong on big, serious Italian reds at around the £30 mark.

Aldi is magnificent. It does not do deals but keeps individual prices low. At the time of writing, it has a stunning Lebanese Red for £7.99 .

Fortnum and Masons has an intelligent choice of wines but they are not cheap. However, their own label wines are spectacularly good. Dinah Rose QC volunteered that opinion to one of us recently and we could not agree more. Billecart-Salmon is a top notch Champagne producer. Their rosé sells for about £70. The company makes the Fortnum’s rosé which costs £25 less! The range is extensive and even modest numbers like Beaujolais are superb. Kindly staff will gift-wrap bottles that are presents.

If you want to post a bottle out, consider Amazon and Harvey Nichols. The former doesn’t charge for delivery on a purchase of £20 while the latter charged a token £5 to deliver five bottles by courier who delivered the next morning. One merchant quoted £20 to deliver a bottle, so choose carefully.

A very special bottle might be wanted for a big birthday or to mark elevation to silk or the bench. Hedonism in Mayfair is the place to go. The ground floor is devoted to white wine and Champagne. The basement is bursting with reds. Staff know everything there is to know. The Regan contact is Clayton Smith who will give you frank advice on what is best to buy. The perception might be that a Russian owned store in Mayfair is outrageously overpriced. Not so. There are bottles costing hundreds or thousands but the range is vast and fairly priced. Its Dom Perignon 2012 is cheaper than that found at aisle 18 of Sainsbury’s.

What to buy for Christmas?

Taking fizz first, a glass of Champagne is a lovely treat. If you need to buy a name then go for Piper Heidsieck. It is less expensive than those brands that spend so much on marketing. It is stocked by many supermarkets so if you can buy it on promotion it could be £20. Tesco Delauney at £15 is absolutely decent too. The very best Champagne offer of the season is 2009 Vintage Claude Carré at Sainsbury’s which, at £25, is ridiculously underpriced.We recommended this producer last year and had lots of favourable feedback. If you want something serious then Charles Heidsieck is the one with wines ‘more brilliant than ever’, says Johnson at page 72 of the bible. The Wine Society has a rolling promotion whereby one can buy six bottles for the price of five. A bottle is around £49. If you want something cheaper, then consider Cava or Sparkling Limoux but not Prosecco.

Turning to white wine, Waitrose Blueprint Burgundy is sumptuous and a tad under £10. It also comes in a half bottle. It is sad that so few halves are offered. The perfect white on Christmas Day.

If you want to spend more then consider buying for the big day Ten Minutes by Tractor’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Absolutely excellent and fairly priced at about £25 a bottle by Fandango Wines, an online supplier. Aldi is strong on Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay too and at about £7.

Our red recommendation last year prevails again. So many readers have told us about how much they enjoyed an organic Primitivo, Terre di Faiano, from Puglia. It is sumptuous and ideal for Christmas dinner. Stocked by Waitrose, it is £9.99 but if you buy on promotion that becomes £7.50. Miles ahead of the competition. Red Rioja is underpriced and it ages well. A biblical bottle of 2011 was recently bought from Vintage Cellars in Pimlico for under £17. Buy it if you are local.

One consequence of COVID is that people are prepared to spend more than before on a bottle. When modest restaurants charge £25 and upwards, the penny dropped that one could enjoy something spectacular at home for about the same amount.

At a recent legal dinner, expecting to be served the usual filthy Chateau Canard de toilette, amazing bottles supplied by Davy’s Wine Merchants of Greenwich were produced. The greatest white tasted by D Regan this year was from Domaine Sève. The 2018 Pouilly Fuissé Vielle Vignes at £28 is toe curlingly delicious. Buy it. If you need help or advice, then Angus Campbell is the hero to contact.He also has supplies of Marquis de Calon 2015 in magnums at £80.

Where to drink if dining out

We are habituals at Hawksmoor on a Monday when you can bring a bottle, regardless of size, for a fiver. Air St, Knightsbridge and Spitalfields are great outposts. There is also a restaurant housed in the old Manchester Courts. The restaurant list is itself clever and their sommeliers will never try to upsell or give you bad advice. Andrew Edmunds in Soho has a wine list that screams value and quality. We consider the wine list to be the best value in London with, for example, Meursault at £65 which many establishments would have on at or about £165.


Filthy weather this year has seen off Burgundy in particular. Our view is that substantial price rises are on the horizon. This is a great opportunity to acquire supplies at fair prices. Happy Christmas to you all.


White, red and sparkling wine are all at home in the Riedel Swirl glass.