Christmas may seem like a long way away still but with December fast approaching what better way to get in the festive spirit – pun intended – than to think about swapping those small sweet treats for a daily tipple?
An explosion in the advent calendar market has seen alcohol versions soar in popularity over the past few years, the incentive being to try a number of small versions without splashing out on entire bottles, as well as being able to sample small breweries and artisan producers who might otherwise fly under your radar.
From mixed wine calendars to whole Prosecco ones there’s a huge amount of choice for wine lovers but there’s also gin ones (enough to fill an entire round-up alone) as well as rum, vodka, whisky and even beer.
Many advent calendars include a modest measure behind each window with some offering 12 doors with others treating you to the full 24 so it’s worth checking before buying. Beware also the size of these calendars – some take up a considerable amount of room, important to consider if you’re planning on transporting it or giving as a gift.
These calendars tend to sell out fairly quickly so if you see one you like it’s best to buy straight away.
Take a look at our round-up of the best ones hitting the market this festive season:
This year Virgin Wines has not one but three wine-specific advent calendars to choose from with a mixed version plus an all red or all white option for the first time ever. Each calendar is packed with 24 of Virgin’s highest customer-rated wines and showcases the selection of award-winning labels in miniature 187ml bottles. We’ve tested this one in the Decanter offices and it definitely lives up to the hype with stylish packaging – just like a very large Christmas present (so make sure you’ve got enough room to store it) and made from heavy duty card so no need to worry about it getting damaged in the post or bottles accidentally pushing through. Virgin also offer a gin advent calendar (£99.99) as well as their first beer version featuring 24 craft beers from breweries around the world (£79.99).
What better way to celebrate the festive season than to pop a mini bottle of fizz every day in December and here you can with The Pip Stop’s special sparkling wine only advent calendar. Another calendar tried and tested at the Decanter HQ – this huge box comes adorned with 24 gold bauble doors each opening to reveal a 20cl bottle of either Prosecco, Moscato or Pinot rosé with an extra special bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne waiting for you behind door number 24 on Christmas Eve! The Pip Stop also offer a 24-bottle beer advent calendar, a mixture of bottles and cans for £64.99.
An instant sell-out last year, Aldi’s mixed wine advent calendar is back. It’s filled with 24 mini bottles of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines and includes customer favourites such as The Exquisite Collection Macon Villages and the Calvet Cap d’Agde Rose, with the size of the bottles ranging from 187ml to 200ml. The calendar in total contains the equivalent of 6 full bottles of 75cl wine. It’s available online and in selected stores.
Another mixed wine advent calendar here featuring 24 x 187ml bottles of red, white and rosé wines from around the world including McGuigan Black Label Chardonnay and Trivento Reserve Malbec. Alternatively John Lewis also offer a Fizz Advent Calendar, priced at £125, featuring 24 x 200ml bottles of Prosecco and Moscato with a special bottle of Lanson Champagne to welcome Christmas Eve.
A great gift or treat for yourself, this advent calendar features 24 bottles of 187ml behind each of the 24 doors with a ‘Bluffers Guide to Wine’ behind number 25. The wines are a mixture of white, red and rosé and come in a blue leatherette box featuring the recipients name foil embossed on the lid.
Non-wine advent calendars
Let the Christmas celebrations be-gin with this fun advent calendar from Drinks by the Dram that’s packed with 24 different, handmade 30ml wax-sealed bottles. From boutique producers to world-renowned brands these miniature bottles allow you 24 chances to discover tasty gins over the festive season including a special Christmas spirit made with frankincense and myrrh. Although not wine, this calendar was a big hit when unwrapped in the Decanter offices! Drinks by the Dram also has all your other spirit bases covered with Whisky, Scotch, Bourbon, Cognac and Rum advent calendars to keep you taste buds going over Christmas.
The perfect gift for ginthusiasts here with an advent calendar that pairs 12 x mini 50ml bottles of craft gins with 12 x 150ml cans of Fever Tree tonic in various flavours. Each G&T combination has been hand chosen by the pros so you can enjoy this classic mix every other day throughout December. Gins comes from the botanical based The Botanist, to juniper-rich Sipsmith London Dry Gin, and are matched with a tonic that complements their unique flavour profiles, such as Refreshingly Light Cucumber Tonic Water, Elderflower and Mediterranean options. Sold in Waitrose stores, online and through Ocado.
If you don’t fancy a daily dose of wine or spirits each day in December, this beer advent calendar could be for you. It features a mixture of 24 bottles and cans including the brewery’s popular bottlings; Ghost Ship and Ease Up IPA as well as Cucamelon and Mosaic Pale Ale in cans.