Christmas wine gifts to buy with your Virgin Points, as recommended by an expert
Ever wondered what kind of Merlot goes perfectly with brussels sprouts? Or the best places globally to source vegan-certified vino? As one of Virgin Wines’ cohort of specialised wine buyers, Sophie Lord has something of a dream job. In non-Covid times, she scours the world in search of all the very best new varieties and independent suppliers that she knows her customers will adore – and the task comes into its own at Christmas.
“Everyone has their own go-to formulas when it comes to stocking up on festive wines,” Sophie says. “For me, the whole festive season is about celebrating with the people you love with something joyous, so bubbles are a must.”
“I’m also personally a fan of big reds, so I’ll quite happily sit on the sofa with a glass of Fincas del Sur Malbec, watching a cheesy Christmas film. Then for a white, I’ll go for something like Vitalita Garganega, because it’s really light, crisp and versatile. I know I can take it to a friend’s house and everyone will just love it.”
Virgin Wines has a 40-strong team of dedicated “wine advisors” that any customer can contact for free, to build a case of wine flavours and styles that are exactly scoped to their tastes. And those in search of a Christmas tipple can also have a browse on Virgin Red, where a selection of fabulous hand-picked cases await to spend with your Virgin Points on. These festive collections do the hard work for you, pulling together a mix of classic and unique wines to suit everyone, from seasoned crowd-pleasers to a special gift.
“Often, my role is like being a scientist; I have all these beakers out, working with winemakers such as California’s Bear Creek, or De Martino in Chile’s Maipo Valley, to get a bespoke blend just right,” explains Sophie, of her enviable role. “We also use customer ratings to help curate our ranges, so our approach is less about particular regions or prestige, and more to do with: ‘does it taste good’? We’re really guided by customers, and enjoyment is everything.”
Without further ado, here are some of the best festive gifts you can buy from Virgin Red using your Virgin Points this Christmas – with recommendations from Sophie, who has worked at Virgin Wines for 14 years, along the way.
Three festive mixed wines in a wooden gift box – 6,250 points
This beauty of a Christmas box from Virgin Wines come with the following treats within:
Vina Ecoyen Reserva: “This top-quality reserva is from the Navarra region of Spain, which is near Rioja but offers something a little bit different,” says Sophie. “Aged in oak and bottle, it has a really nice vanilla-y, toasty lift, balanced by dark fruit notes. It’s a great Christmas wine: serve it with a plate of mature cheeses or charcuterie to impress your in-laws with.”
The Sail Shiraz: “A strong, full-bodied Shiraz from Australia’s McLaren Vale, this has everything you want in a rich red all-rounder,” says Sophie. “With hints of earthy black pepper and bramble fruits, it’s got a lot of finesse and will go well with anything from hearty winter stew to a beef wellington or spag bol.”
La Jamais Contente Sauvignon Blanc: “Behold a crowd-pleaser; this is perfect for easy drinking with friends and family, over a platter of smoked salmon blinis,” says Sophie. “It’s from the Pays d’Oc region of France, and you can really taste the Mediterranean influence with crisp, tropical nuances of citrus and melon that are like sunshine in a bottle.”
If you’re more of a red wine person, you might prefer this version of the gift box, also for 6,250 points, or white wine fans can use the same amount of points on a trio of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay bottles.
A members-only six bottle wine case – 9,000 points
This refined box of reds, specially curated for members of Virgin Wines, contains some real treats for those with a passion for new and unusual varieties.
x2 Dragon Hills Syrah: “This fun, vegan-certified blend comes from a multi-award winning Romanian winery,” says Sophie. “It combines a New World punch of fruity notes with a soft, approachable quality. It’s what I would call an everyday glugger. It’s not fancy or heavy, you don’t need to let it breathe. But it’s perfect for when you’re cooking some pasta, or ordering a pizza mid-week and just fancy a glass of something nice on the side.”
x2 Aguila Chillando Garnacha Tempranillo: “Combining two of Spain’s most famous grapes, this wine is produced in the Cariñena province, which is a bit of an undiscovered gem,” says Sophie. “Because of the high altitude and cool nights, the wines here are bursting with flavour, and they have a distinct freshness to them. This will go really nicely with a lamb roast or Mediterranean veg dishes like ratatouille, with lots of wild herbs and rich textures.”
x2 Beneficio Winemakers Selection McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz: “This showstopper of a red brings together Grenache and Shiraz – two of South Australia’s most noted wine varieties,” says Sophie. “It’s a match made in heaven. Like the full sound of an orchestra, it harmonises dark and red berry fruits with hints of chocolate and vanilla from the aged oak process. The result is a classic New World bottle with a long finish and many rich layers of flavour.”
Prosecco six pack – 12,000 points
Who doesn’t love bubbles at Christmas? With Virgin Red, you can stock up in style with half a dozen bottles of Prodezza Prosecco for 12,000 points a go. “This lovely dry Prosecco, comes from the Veneto region of Italy,” says Sophie. “It’s produced by the son of a Tuscan winemaker with generations of experience in the industry; the family are famous on the Italian wine scene, and they’re really passionate about flavour.”
“It’s the perfect celebratory drink that can flow all night,” Sophie goes on. “Easy on the wallet, it’s a light and playful option that’s backed with flavours of orchard fruits: think citrus, pears and green apples. This is great on its own, but it’ll also go well with Asian-inspired cuisine like sushi, or dim sum.”
Prefer rosé to Prosecco? This Virgin Wines six pack, featuring two delicious varieties of fruity rosé for 10,000 points, may be the gift for you.
A members-only 12 bottle mixed wine case – 19,000 points
If you want to go all-out on the wine front, you can’t do better than this sensational 12 bottle case of mixed wines available to Virgin Wines members. It’s one of Virgin Red’s most popular wine ranges, and for good reason: there’s something here to please everyone round your Christmas table. “This bumper case really takes the guesswork out of picking your own wines at Christmas,” says Sophie.
“Instead of trying to figure out what is good right now, or who will like what, you’ve got something here to suit most tastes, along with a mix of classic and more unusual varieties. There’s the Argentinian Malbec to warm your cockles by a log fire on a cold winter’ night. The Aguila Chillando Garnacha is a bit more unusual being from Cariñena; perhaps a talking point around the table.
“Then you have the lovely rich Black Pig Viognier with a strong floral character, and notes of apricot and peaches. That’ll be a great pairing for chicken or pork dishes, or something like Moroccan couscous due to the apricot flavour.
“You also have the Ali di Api Pinot Grigio, a crisp Italian white that everyone will enjoy, and your French Sauvignon – Les Arbousiers Reserve – which again, is a crowd favourite, and will also be great for any fish courses you have planned,” Sophie continues. “And, for something people might not have tried, there’s the Vitalita Garganega, with tropical , pear and herbaceous notes; there’s a hint of fennel in there. So, the box comes with bottles people will recognise and love, and also more offbeat varieties to treat your guests to.”
The box in full contains:
The Black Pig Viognier x 1
Fincas del Sur Malbec x 1
Ali di Api Pinot Grigio x 2
Les Arbousiers Reserve Sauvignon Blanc x 2
Senorio de Algas Gran Reserva x2
16 Little Black Pigs Shiraz Cabernet x 1
Aguila Chillando Garnacha x 2
Vitalita Garganega x 1
Members of Virgin Wines can also buy a Christmas white wine-only case via Virgin Red for 19,000 points, with a special offer of three extra bottles for free (15 wines in total). The same goes for this special offer Christmas red wine-only case, also for 19,000 points, and with 15 wines to choose from. .
Raise your glasses: this festive season is set to be tasty indeed.