Red wines and a light beer to keep all guests happy this Christmas

John Wilson: Stock up on wines and beer that are not too heavy in alcohol or drying tannins

This week I’m suggesting three all-purpose red wines to help you through the festive season, and a lighter session beer to cover all eventualities. All can be enjoyed with or without food. It is a good idea to stock up on wines and beer that are not too heavy in alcohol or drying tannins. Light to medium-bodied wines with similar levels of alcohol – 12.5-13.5 per cent – are ideal.

Shane Kelly of Dot Brew is one of the most innovative craft brewers, with a penchant for ageing beer in wine and whiskey barrels. Dot recently released three barley wines, beers with an ABV of 17.5-18% per cent. The Loose Session below is a much milder beer, clocking in at 3.5 per cent, meaning you can enjoy a few cans without keeling over.

The Syrah is one of my perennial favourites, and well worth buying when on promotion. It comes from a large co-operative based in Saint-Joseph in the southern Rhône. The wines are solid, reliable and reasonably priced.

The Garnacha is made from grapes grown close to Madrid, not an area we associate with wine. However, over the past decade there have been some excellent wines produced, mostly using the Garnacha (or Grenache) grape. This version is light and juicy.


Lastly, Beaujolais is one of those wines that goes with just about every food (including turkey), while also being light enough to enjoy without food. Juliénas is one of the crus, or top villages, within Beaujolais.

Dot Brew Loose Session IPA

3.5%, €3.30-€3.50

Lots of fresh hoppy notes, light and racy with a lip-smacking finish. Great by itself, with snacks or pork dishes.

From off-licences nationwide

Syrah 2020, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, Cave Saint-Désirat

13%, €11.95, down from €15.95

A lighter Syrah with smooth savoury dark cherry fruits and a dry finish. Perfect with all kinds of red or white meats, firm cheeses and charcuterie.

From O’Briens

Bodegas Cinco Leguas, ‘Rompecepas’ Garnacha, Chinchon, Madrid, 2022

12.5%, €18-€19.50

Seductive, fresh, dark, earthy, spicy fruits that would match nicely with a variety of white meats, tomato sauces with pasta and lighter bean casseroles.

From Baggot Street Wines; Green Man, D6W; 64wine, Glasthule; Redmonds, Ranelagh; La Touche, Greystones; Lilith, D7; Martin’s, D3; The Wine Pair, D8; Pinto Wines, D9

Juliénas Les 4 Cerisiers 2019, Domaine de Boischampt

13%, €21.54

Vibrant juicy concentrated red summer fruits with a lovely savoury edge. Great by itself or with salmon, chicken, pork dishes and soft cheeses.