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Wines for Millennium Celebrations

Believe me, I tried to make this page a millennium-free zone: an oasis of calm amongst the madness without a Y, or a 2, or a K in sight. But if you are in the market for festive wines (and aren't we all?) then there's just no avoiding the big "M" on wine retailers' shelves. Before we get to my recommendations for Christmas dinner, here's a run-down of bottles that would be ideal for your you-know-what party: sparkling wines for a variety of budgets, and some special releases. UK stockists and prices are given.

Party fizz

Sainsbury's Bottle-Fermented Chardonnay (£5.99) has a yeasty, buttery nose and crisp, light, lemony palate. Lindauer Brut Rosé (£7.49) is widely available, fruity and ultra-reliable. I really loved the Seaview Pinot Noir/Chardonnay (£8.99) from Safeway with its nose of buttered toast and rich palate of creamy peach fruit. The delightfully pink Champagne Oeil de Perdrix (£16.99) is down to £13.60 a bottle from Majestic if you buy six. For something totally different try Safeway's Baron de Monceny Sparkling Merlot/Gamay (£4.99). Chilled well, this ruby-red fizz is like a super-charged strawberry ice. Weirdly delicious.

Millennium specials

Look hard and amongst the hype there are some decent celebration wines on the shelves. Continuing the bubbly theme, Tesco's excellent Millennium Cava (£5.99) is well-made, rich and ideal for toasting-in the new year. A definite step up is Sainsbury's Millennium Grand Cru Champagne (£19.99) which has a mealy nose and plenty of mouthwatering lemon fruit. Oddbins brings us real class in the shape of Billecart-Salmon 2000 Champagne (£19.99). Elegant and grown-up, this has fruit and finesse.

A couple of good all-round dry whites are Tesco's "Third Millennium" (£3.99) with its striking blue bottle, easy-drinking style and fresh flavours of pear and melon. Sainsbury's "Y2K White" (£4.99) is an Argentinian Chardonnay hat has ripe tropical fruit and a buttery richness – and Sainsbury will make a donation to charity for every bottle sold of this and its red equivalent. Tesco's Millennium Red (£3.29) is a perfect party wine, being soft and gluggable, with creamy berry flavours and low acidity.

The following should make a great match for traditional roast turkey.

Whites

Scholtzenhof Petit Chenin 1999
South African winemaker Ken Forrester has a knack for fruity, crisp wines and this is a beauty at the price. Sweet tropical fruit and good body, yet a dry, biscuity finish (Oddbins £3.69).

Montana Marlborough Reserve Chardonnay 1998
From New Zealand, an aromatic wine with a nose of limes and unctuous, exotic fruit. There are notes of pineapple, coconut and a little enhancement from charry oak. Poised, balanced and nicely mature (Victoria Wine/Bottoms Up £7.99).

Reds


Oak-aged Valdepeñas Reserva 1993
This Spanish wine has a vanilla-laden nose with herbal nuances. Plenty of soft, medium-bodied raspberry fruit on the palate. Nicely balanced in a modern, savoury style. (Safeway £4.49).

C.V. Pinot Noir 1998
From Australia's excellent Capel Vale winery, a svelte and juicy Pinot with plenty of soft strawberry fruit and a dense, chocolaty palate (Majestic £7.99 down to £6.99 until Christmas).