The best sweet wine for Christmas

Do everything before a dry January and rediscover Hungary's harbours, fortified muscles and tokaji

If Christmas is the last hurray before the prospect of a dismal diet and dry January, you better be broke. Sure, there may already be more than enough sweet stuff on offer, but why not gild the daffodils with a glass of something delicious too. Plus they make brilliant bottles to give as gifts.

They're also often very cheap, at least compared to other wines, and not always from where you'd expect them to be. There have been some great buys from Majestic on their regular "mix six" deals, including a classy 2013 sauterne from the Definition range (13%) for £19.99 for the full-sized bottle (or £9.99 for the half, which is less than what Aldi charges for the half). within the Custom Options range). And the Greek muscle in today's picks – from Waitrose, no less – is an absolute steal.

Port can also be very good value, especially since it is served in smaller portions and you can get 10 glasses from the bottle instead of the usual six. It's more a question of which style to choose: tawny or vintage ruby/bottle finish. I prefer the former with cheese and the latter – Morrisons Special Reserve Harbor (20%) at the wallet-friendly £8.50 is a great example – with mince pie.

Even tawnies made from port that have spent an average of 10 years in casks can be found for around £12 if you go on your own label rather than the big brand. Try the tantalizingly smooth Aldi's Tawny 10 Year Old (20%) for £11.49, which tastes almost like salted caramel liqueur; Morrisons' The Best 10-Year-Old Tawny at £12.50 is good too.

Fortified Muscat, Australia's answer to tawny port, is a great Christmas buy and is delicious with anything hot or spicy. I recommended Aldi's eight-year-old muscat (18%) a few weeks ago, to serve with Ravneet Gill chocolate and caramel mousse, but Campbells Rutherglen Muscat (£11.16 half-bottle, £13 Booth, 17.5%) will also popular with most festive cakes, especially Christmas cakes.

The famous Hungarian sweet wine Tokaji is another option. Again, it's great with Christmas pudding, as you'd expect from a grape flavored with apricots and marmalade, but it also turns out really good with stiltons. Majestic has a bottle for £12.99 (the same as Lidl costs for the Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 9.5% 2014), and it's still cheaper if you buy it on the mix-six deal, which brings it down to £9.99 and which is kind of a turn-on for books.

Finally, if you're feeling a bit of a splash, try the festive-looking L'Occhiolino Sparkling Red 2021 (£12 Averys and Laithwaites, or £9 if you buy the mixed 12 box, 7.5%). It may not be to everyone's taste, but it would make an indulgent partner for a chocolate pavlova. Or the inevitable can of Cadbury Roses, come on over there.

Six sweet treats for Christmas

Best Morrisons Botrytis Semillon 2018 £7.25 half bottle, 11.5%. Australia's answer to sauterne, with an extra measure of grilled pineapple.

Samos Vin Doux 2020 £8.99 Waitrose and Waitrose Cellar, 15%. This Greek wine has flavors of dried apricots and oranges, perfect for Christmas pudding. Great value for a full size bottle too.

Special Choice Pedro Ximénez £5.49 half bottle Aldi, 17%. Very sweet sherry that tastes like liquid raisins. Pour on the ice cream (maybe with a piece of fried Christmas pudding underneath).

Pillitteri Estates Vidal Icewine 2020 £13.99 Lidl, 10.5%. It's very sweet, so drink it very cold. Brilliant gift.

Marks & Spencer Solera Cream Sherry £8 (on offer), 17.5%. Never mind Santa Claus, the maker of mince pies and gift wrappers deserves a glass of this.

Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2017/18 £12.99 for 50cl (or £9.99 for a mixed six) Magnificent, 12%. I actually prefer the famous Hungarian dessert wine to the current sauternes.

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