With Christmas just days away now, I thought it helpful to give you some suggestions for easy food and wines when entertaining friends or family – or just enjoying a quiet festive break.

Speedy Canapés with Cypressa

Make sure you have a good supply of crackers and pots of pestos etc to enable you to whip up a few speedy canapés if unexpected guests drop by.

These jars of Cypressa’s tapenades will add extra flavour and offer beautiful sunshine flavours that can enhance bruschetta or dips. 

Try adding a swirl to your hummus to give it an extra dimension, or brush some on ready rolled pastry, cut into squares and bake – for a quick and easy canapé.

Cypressa products are readily available at Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado, Morrisons, Amazon and Co-op. 

Boxing Day and Beyond with Opies

Christmas isn’t Christmas in our house without pickled walnuts with Boxing Day lunch! Opies is THE name for these, but the company also does a host of other fabulous products.

Excellent store cupboard standbys include the fruits in alcohol, such as the new Forest Fruits in Spiced Mulled Gin.  Try them poured over ice cream or popped into a meringue nest for a speedy, but spectacular dessert.

I discovered that Opies also produces the most divine Silverskin Onions with Turmeric & Mustard Seeds (£2 a jar from Morrisons and worth a special trip).

The company has loads of great recipes on the website here with interesting and unusual ideas for using up Christmas leftovers.

Timely Wine Recommendations from Asda

There’s still time to stock up with some special wines for the festive period, and I was very impressed with the quality and prices of the Asda Special Selection wines when I went to a tasting recently.

Treat yourself to the Extra Special Rosso Montalcino (£18 a bottle) which has great length and beautiful tannins – it will be perfect for Christmas lunch. 

The wines are great value, and the Extra Special Cote de Beaune (£17) was another perfect Christmas Day wine. 

There are other brilliant value Extra Special wines too: The Chilean Pinot Noir at £8 or the Douro at just £7.50. 

And the Extra Special Amarone is fabulous, and on offer at the moment for £17 (Full-bodied with complex aromas and layers of intense dried fruit, dark chocolate and sweet spice flavours)

Asda’s Extra Special range of foods also has a great selection of ready prepared canapés and other festive goodies, so worth a visit to your nearest store!

Grands Chais de France Award-winning Wines

Still on festive wines, Grands Chais de France, has an impressive portfolio of over 300 award-winning wines.

With numerous awards from international competitions, including Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge, you can be confident that you’re serving top notch wines. 

Some examples of these excellent wines are:  Calvet Côtes du Rhône Villages (£8 / £7 Clubcard at Tesco); Calvet Prestige Bordeaux White (£9.99 at Waitrose); Fleurs de Prairie sparkling rosé (£8.75 at Morrisons); Arthur Metz crémant de Bordeaux (£12 at Ocado) and Villiera Cap Classique Brut (£16.99 at Majestic)

Buvez that Bouvet

If you’re heading up to Knightsbridge either pre-Christmas or for the sales, consider popping into Harvey Nichols to buy a bottle of Bouvet Excellence Crémant de Loire (£18). 

This cuvée is made using the Chenin and Chardonnay grape varieties, with a minimum of 15 months on the lees and a Brut dosage (10g/l), and is perfect for enjoying as an aperitif or pairing with a meal.  It has delightful flower, pear & apple aromas, and on the palate it’s fresh, well balanced with a pleasing mousse.   

It’s good value for the quality of wine and it’ll be a great one for toasting 2024 too!

A Cool Yule with Häagen-Dazs

HäagenDazs has elevated the festive season with a new indulgent nutty launch:  Pistachio & Cream flavour ice cream.

Smooth pistachio swirls are delicately swirled in lusciously creamy milk ice cream, with a sprinkle of caramelised pistachio and almond pieces to bring a crunch into every bite, it is a great freezer standby.  The Pistachio & Cream Pint is available from: Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado and Sainsbury’s, RRP from £5.25