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My tipple: Delia's favourite Christmas drinks

 

My Tipple 1Ever wondered what Delia likes to sip at Christmas when she finally gets to put her feet up? Here are the eight festive favourites that Delia will be stocking up with this year

My husband, Michael, and I are huge lovers of wine, sampling it, tasting it and buying it for our tiny capsule cellar at home, which gives us so much pleasure. Christmas, though, is the one time when we stock up and drink other things – it seems to add to the festiveness of it all. After many Christmases of tippling, the following have emerged as some of our favourites.

Green Chartreuse

I once visited the Carthusian monastery of Chartreuse, not far from Grenoble, round about Christmas time. What started as an elixir made from the wild mountain herbs gathered by the monks has developed into a liqueur with remarkable digestive qualities. When you pour some Chartreuse on to a copious amount of ice in a balloon glass, swirl it around, close your eyes and take a deep breath – I promise you it’s like being transported to the Savoie’s icy slopes and breathing in the fresh mountain air. Lovely at the end of a rich meal.

Chambery vermouth

From the same area as Chartreuse, this vermouth has a fragrant, citrus, herb-infused backdrop. This is our favourite apéritif, served straight from the fridge, again with lots of ice and a twist of lemon or lime. The best one I’ve come across to date is Routin, available from Berry Bros (www.bbr.com). Waitrose does one produced by Dolin, which is also very good.

Sherry

We always have chilled sherry in our fridge and through the year we favour dry amontillado or the slightly less dry manzanilla. But at Christmas we adore a glass of Pedro Ximenez as a rich dessert wine, drunk at room temperature. It’s particularly good served with a slice of Christmas cake. Pedro Ximenez is available from good wine merchants and by post from Emmett's Stores, Peasenhall, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 2HJ (01728) 660250.

Calvados

As lovers of Normandy and all it produces – the butter, cheeses, crème fraiche and all those lovely apple recipes – we have also long been fans of Calvados, the drink consumed in what is known as the trou Normand (the gap between the first and second course of a meal). As an after-dinner treat, pour some into a brandy glass, give it a plenteous amount of swirling, put your nose in and breathe in the fragrance, redolent of an ancient, well-stocked apple loft. The area of the Pays d’Auge produces the best quality, and the initials XO denote the best available.

Madeira

Coming from the tiny island of Madeira, this is a drink that is totally unique. There’s dry, nutty Sercial, which is served chilled as an apéritif, or Malmsey – rich, dark and luscious served at room temperature with – guess what? – slices of Madeira cake. (By the way, Marks & Spencer does a good Madeira cake.)

Single malt whisky

I usually get round to one of these on New Year’s Eve (or, of course, if I’m visiting Scotland). I love the in-your-face, peaty, smoky Lagavulin, distilled on Islay in the Western Isles or, failing that, the nearby, and equally strident Laphroaig.

Port

I’m no expert on fine wines, but I love a glass of vintage port poured from the special decanter we only use at Christmas. A glass, some cheese, a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker, and some soft, flickering candlelight are all you need to feel very Christmassy indeed.

Pink champagne

I’ve always had a soft spot for Laurent-Perrier rosé Champagne. But this year I’ve discovered another rosé Champagne that has rapidly become a favourite: it is Billecart-Salmon, not a name you might have heard of because it’s from a small producer and is virtually hand made. It’s a great glass of joyous fizz to celebrate a great feast.


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