GRAPEVINE with LIZ SAGUES: Let Christmas be your guiding star

There s one type of wine writing I particularly try to avoid: the unadorned shopping list. What follows will be exactly – well, almost – that. Why? Because as Christmas looms, you ll not want to read a lot of wordy tasting notes or to immerse yourself i

There's one type of wine writing I particularly try to avoid: the unadorned shopping list. What follows will be exactly - well, almost - that.

Why? Because as Christmas looms, you'll not want to read a lot of wordy tasting notes or to immerse yourself in the atmosphere and culture of an individual wine region. So here's a broad choice for festive drinking.

I've split the recommendations into flavour and style categories, from cheapest to dearest each time - round figures, no 99p nonsense. Some are offer prices (almost all Majestic's are for two-plus bottles), all valid at least until January 1, and sometimes there are case deals. But that apart, you'll have to take my word that I'd very happily pour a glass of any for myself and all wine-appreciating friends.

Fine bubbles:

Co-op Fairtrade Cape Sparkling Rose, South Africa, �6; Griffith Park Brut, Australia, �7, Morrisons, Asda; Collalbrigo Brut Prosecco, Italy, �10 www.fromvineyardsdirect.com;

R & L Legras Brut NV, Champagne, �26 Berry Bros & Rudd; Tarlant Brut Zero, Champagne, �28 M&S; Louis Roederer Brut Premier, Champagne, RRP �35, lots of offers, eg �25 Majestic; 2002 Guy Larmandier Cramant Prestige, Champagne, �35 Berry Bros & Rudd.

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Zesty, fragrant whites,

great as aperitifs and with light food:

DB Selection Verdelho 2008, Australia, �4.80 Waitrose; Les Montgolfiers Sauvignon Blanc-Gros Manseng 2007, �5 Tesco; Domaine Les Yeuses Muscat Petit Grain 2008 vdp d'Oc, France, �6 Majestic; La Basca Uvas Blancas 2008, Spain, �6.50 M&S; Alba de Murviedo 2008, Spain, �7 Sainsbury's; Mineralstein Riesling 2008, Germany, �7 M&S; Vidal Riesling 2008, New Zealand, �8 Oddbins; Fina Vini Grillo 2008, Sicily, �9 Sainsbury's; Mas des Bressades Cuvee Tradition Blanc 2008 Costieres de Nimes, France, �9, Oddbins.

Serious, special whites, good with posh poultry:

Domaine Begude Le Bel Ange Chardonnay 2008 vdp d'Oc, France, �5 Majestic; Errazuriz Chardonnay 2008, Chile, �5 Majestic; Les Orris vdp des Cotes Catalanes 7007, France, �8 M&S; Clothilde Davenne Sauvignon St Bris 2007, France, �8 www.fromvineyardsdirect.com; Cornet et Cie Collioure 2008, France, �10 M&S; Tahbilk Marsanne 2007, Australia, �10 Sainsbury's; Domaine de Villargeau Coteaux du Giennois 2008, Loire, France, �10 Oddbins; Pouilly Fume La Cote Blanche 2008, France, �12 M&S; Pernand-Vergelesses Louis Jadot 2007, Burgundy, France, �15 Majestic; Saint Aubin Champtirant 2008, Burgundy, France, �15 M&S.

Lighter,

fragrant reds:

Le Dog de Jean-Marc Merlot 2008, vdp d'Oc, France, �5 Morrisons; Corvina Rosso Veronese 2005 Ca' del Pipa, Italy, �7 Majestic; Louis Latour Red Burgundy 2007, France, �8 Waitrose, Majestic; Whirlpool Reach Pinot Noir 2008, Tasmania, Australia, �10 Oddbins; Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2008, New Zealand, �10 Sainsbury's, Tesco; Les Hautes Bassieres Pinot Noir 2007, Chateau de Vaux 2007, Moselle, France, �11 www.thewinesociety.com; Ribbonwood Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand, Oddbins �14.

Old world reds which punch above their price:

Torres Ibericos 2006, Rioja, Spain, �6.75 Waitrose; Domaine Les Yeuses Les Epices Syrah 2007, vdp d'Oc, France, �7 Majestic; Chateau la Dournie 2007 St Chinian, France, �7 Majestic; Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2007, Cotes-du-Rhone Villages, France, �8 Majestic; Gran Conti Biferno Reserva 2005, Molise, Italy, �10 Tesco; Crozes Hermitage Les Jalets 2006 Jaboulet, Rhone, France, �10 Majestic; La Pimpanela Montpeyroux 2008, Domaine La Jasse Castel, France, �10 www.thewinesociety.com; Pietracupa Bolgheri 2007, Tenuta Moraia, Italy, �12 Sainbury's; Chatekau de Sabazon 2004, Saint Mont, France, �13 Nicolas; Les Ollieux Boutenac 2007, Languedoc, France, �19 Oddbins; Rioja Gran Reserva Monte Real 1978, Spain, �20 Majestic; Pesquera Tinto 2006 Ribera del Duero, Spain, �21 Oddbins; Roda Reserva 2005, Rioja, Spain, �30 Oddbins.

Reds with a special sense of place:

Vina Pomal Reserva 2003, Rioja, Spain, �7 Majestic; Chemin des Olivettes 2008, Coteaux du Languedoc, France, �8 Sainsbury's; Altos d'Oliva Gran Reserva 2000, Catalunya, Spain, �8 fromvineyardsdirect.com; Nepenthe Charleston Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007, Adelaide Hills, Australia, �8 Majestic; Cave Saint Desirat 2007, Saint Joseph, France, �10 Sainsbury's.

New world reds with

serious style:

Tesco Finest* Block 13 Shiraz-Grenache 2008 McLaren Vale, Australia, �9; Picada 15 Red Blend 2007, NQN,

Mendoza, Argentina, �8 www.wines. pampasplains. com; Tesco Finest* Argentine Malbec 2008, Mendoza, �8.

Seductive sweet things:

Mont Tauch Tradition Muscat de Rivesaltes, France, �6.30 Morrisons (half bottle); Banyuls Cuvee Leon Perce 2006, �17 www.thewinesociety.com; Quinta do Noval 10-year-old Tawny Port, �16 Waitrose, Ocado; Apostoles 30-year-old Pale Cortado, Jerez, Spain, �15 Majestic (half-bottle); Noe PX Viejo, Jerez, Spain, Oddbins �16 (half-bottle).

Liz Sagues