Leave the right lasting impression with these top sweet and fortified wines to round off a top Christmas dinner.
With Christmas pudding: Chateau D’Orignac AOC Pineau des Charentes, France (£15.50 www.thewinesociety.com) - This golden elixir is the perfect sweet brandy to pair with a flaming pud. A blend of eau-de-vie and grape juice from the Cognac region, this Pineau spends at least five years in oak and should be served well-chilled to truly appreciate the zip of apricots poached in syrup and delicate caramel and honey notes.
Blandy’s 10-Year-Old Malmsey, Madeira (£19.99, 50cl, www.vintagemarque.com) – Madeira comes into its own this time of year. A sinfully sweet aged malmsey is not only delicious on its own, but also rich and nutty enough, with its core of concentrated raisins and soft toffee and spice, to stand up to the heavy fruit, rum sauce, custard and cream ... yummy.
With cheeses: Taylors 10-Year-Old Tawny Port, Portugal (£18.30, 75cl, Waitrose) – Remarkably drinkable and the most traditional match with Stilton, the red fruits in a tawny port complementing the blue vein in the cheese. The velvety smooth, soaked fruitcake flavours, with golden sultanas and figs on the long, soft finish, will also taste heavenly with a box of chocolate truffles.
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2008, Western Cape, South Africa (£37, 50cl, www.bbr.com) – Vin de Constance is South Africa’s answer to the finest Sauternes and this wine has been cited as one of the world’s greats. This lush, sweet, intense white made from a muscat variety should be served chilled with a selection of hard cheeses like parmesan, pecorino and comte.
With trifle: Chateau Barbier Sauternes 2005, France (£9.99, 37.5cl, www.virginwines.co.uk) – This delectable Bordeaux blonde from an outstanding vintage will complement a well-laced trifle with fresh fruit, vanilla custard and cream. It is pure nectar with potent notes of honey, orange blossom and exotic candied fruits, and the sweetness and richness are balanced by a good acidity on the silky finish.
Brown Brothers Orange Flora Muscat 2012, Victoria, Australia (£7.49, 37.5cl, Waitrose) - Young and ever-so-slightly effervescent, this little gem from Down Under is tinged with tropical fruit with the medley of zesty citrus and subtle spice keeping it fresh, floral and fun. Uber delicious, serve well-chilled for a final flourish with trifle and mince pies.