The taster’s 24 days of Christmas.  

The run up to Christmas is always exciting and even more so if you have an advent calendar to help with the count down. As a girl, my advent calendars were little cardboard windows with all the excitement of a different picture behind them on transparent paper so they glowed against the light. My boys grew up with an added bonus of chocolates behind each door. As an official chocaholic, these still work for me, but now there are even more interesting grown-up versions. Below is a list of ten of my favourites, chosen with tasters in mind.

Fortunately for wine lovers, we no longer have to limit ourselves to boozy chocolates. Most wines already come in handy cases of twelve so two cases and there’s your bottle a day to open for the month of December right there – job done. Spirits are also cutting in on the act: fortunately not a bottle a day or you probably wouldn’t make it until Christmas, even sharing. There’s also an option to train your sense of smell without the alcohol, think scent and candles.

  1. Chocolate advent calendars still work, even for adults – Hotel Chocolat have a great range you can choose from dark, milk or white chocolates in the shape of seasonal reindeer, snowmen, penguins and Christmas trees.
Christmas figurines behind the windows at Hotel Chocolat
Christmas figurines behind the windows at Hotel Chocolat
  1. They also have a more romantic version for couples with two of each type of truffle behind each little window, which should prevent any pre-christmas family squabbling.
Or chocolates for two
Or chocolates for two
  1. French chocolatier La Maison du Chocolat also does a beautiful version as lovely to look at as to taste.
Designer chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat
Designer chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat
  1. The Ginvent calendar (geddit?) from the Ginfoundary includes 24 different miniatures of gin covering all different styles from different types of producer, inspired by a pop-up life-size, i.e. bottle-sized, bar they created one Christmas.
Discover botanicals with Ginvent © Giles Christopher - Media Wisdom Photography Ltd
Discover botanicals with Ginvent
© Giles Christopher – Media Wisdom Photography Ltd
  1. If whisky is your preferred seasonal tipple, Drinks by the Dram offer a whole range of different whisky selections as advent calendars. They include Scotch, Irish but also American and Japanese whiskies, as well as gins, vodkas, cognacs and tequilas. I have my eye on the old and rare whisky version as homework for a whisky tour next year, in case anyone’s asking.
A dram per day from Whisky by the Dram
A dram per day from Whisky by the Dram
  1. Wine. Although any case of 12 you choose can be doubled up to reach 24, Virgin wines has created a selection of 24 bottles in a special advent package so you don’t have to choose.
and a Bottle a day from Virgin Wines
and a bottle a day from Virgin Wines
  1. Chateau Bauduc will deliver two Christmas choices directly to you from the Château in Bordeaux. The Sparkling Case includes 8 bottles including dry white, sweet white and sparkling Bordeaux or a 6 bottle case under the banner Christmas Lunch without the sparkling so that’ll be 3 cases of the first or 4 of the second to make it through the month.
Put a sparkle in the run up to Christmas.
Put a sparkle in the run up to Christmas.

9.Traditional London Wine Merchant Berry Brothers and Rudd offers a range of Christmas cases to choose from, again in cases of 3, 6 or 12 so you’ll have to do your own maths to get to the desired number. Their Luxury Collection; a top range of wines including champagne, red and white both sweet and dry from across France, a bottle of port and a bottle of their single malt whisky – so that should cover you until Christmas day with a wee dram left over for the big day perhaps?

Spoilt for choice at BBR
Spoilt for choice at BBR

If you want to train your sense of smell without imbibing here’s a couple of options:

  1. Jo Malone (they have a shop in Bordeaux now too) has a gorgeous advent calendar full of mini perfumes most of which have fruit, flower and spice notes – so perfect training for the wine taster.
Train your sense of smell with Jo Malone
Train your sense of smell with Jo Malone

10. French candle maker and perfumer Diptyque has a similar calendar filled with mini scents and candles including their holiday fragrance such as pine, incense and berries – perfect for the festive mood.

Or with Dyptique
Or with Dyptique

I’m not sure what wine you’d pair with them but if you’ve followed the advice above you’ll have plenty to choose from.

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