Ahead of the celebration of its 150th anniversary in 2024, The Wine Society is geared up for a fabulous festive season, with a selection of classics and boundary-pushing styles at an unbeatable price/quality ratio.
Decanter’s Outstanding Wine Retailer of the Year 2023 has persevered in keeping prices stable, malgré tout, providing its members with much needed reassurance against the backdrop of inflation and rising alcohol duty. Time to stock up, before energy prices rise again in January, and let the merriment begin.
Pop that fizz
Much thanks to the tasting acumen and strategic savvy of buyer Sarah Knowles MW, the sparkling section remains strong, with quite a few classic festive bargains up for grabs. While there are plenty of deals covering the obvious appellations – especially the inevitable Champagne – it’s worth exploring the wider fizz selection, with jewels from other geographies offering great, intriguing alternatives. The Vouvray below, for example, with its savoury complexity and incredible persistence, is an absolute steal for less than £15.
White and red
Plunging temperatures might make you think mostly of warning reds but no celebration is complete without a comprehensive selection that includes whites and rosés as well. Serve them as an aperitif, alongside bubbles, or select richer styles for smart food pairings. Our round-up includes many food-friendly whites (and a delicious dark-hued pink from Tavel), perfect for the celebratory table and winter blues.
Looking to expand your wine horizons?
Classics and mavericks
The Wine Society never fails to deliver a wide and interesting line up from go-to regions. This winter is no exception and one can easily select from an appealing range from Chianti, Rioja, Bordeaux and Burgundy, many of which will make for great, uncontentious gifts.
But while the retailer is known for consistently delivering on classics – notably though its comprehensive own-label range, strongly represented below, for which it has enlisted some top producers – the retailer has also become a champion of maverick and unexplored regions. All to the benefit of its members who can choose from an ever-more exciting selection of Eastern European, Austrian, Swiss, Greek, and overlooked French, Spanish and Portuguese appellations.
Some producers stand out and it’s good to see them gaining better footing in the UK market thanks to The Wine Society. Jurtschitsch (Kamptal, Austria), Kolonics (Somló, Hungary) and Thymioupoulos (Naoussa, Greece) are among the many names worth seeking out.
Fortified and sweet
Two other categories of compulsory exploration on the company’s website – ahead of the festive season and otherwise – are sweets and fortifieds. From outstanding sherries for less than a tenner to warming LBV Ports, by way of intriguing and luscious sticky pours, there really is someone for everyone. Again, it’s worth thinking ‘outside the box’ and seeking out alternatives to the go-to regions and/or producers. Or you might miss out on great-value jewels such as Sánchez Romate’s Fino and Oloroso.
There’s absolutely no excuse for a Christmas cheese served without a proper and interesting pairing.
Inside the box
TWS also has a great selection of curated cases (both wine-only and including food treats) and classy hampers. These will work either as ready-made party kits or thoughtful and stylish gifts. Reflecting the variety of its range there are cases for explorers (Adventurers’ Case, £62/6 bottles) and non-risk takers alike (Members’ Favourites, £94/12 bottles; Wine Champion Winners Reds Case, £55/6 bottles). If you feel like you can somewhat stretch the budget try The Ultimate Christmas Day Case (£156), with a selection of six fantastic bottles. There’s even a Gin and Tonic case, complete with dry olive slices for garnish and accompanying snacks.
The Wine Society: top buys this Winter
All wines tasted 28 September 2023. Prices do not reflect any special or multi-buy offers.
Prices are accurate at the time of writing