This week, I'm the Celebrity Drinks Ambassador for the Ideal Home Show at Christmas (16th-20th November) and, although I have yet to receive any formal attire - surely ambassadors wear red sashes and twinkly medals - I couldn't be more chuffed for the opportunity to share my Christmas drinks tips.
I passionately believe that you don't need to spend a fortune to enjoy great wine. Try Cuvée Chasseur 2010 from Waitrose for just £4.13 a bottle (you can get a case delivered from waitrosewine.com). It's a brilliant vibrant fruity red from the south of France that I'm delighted by. Great value, top flavour and the perfect wine for mulling - fruity, light and delicious! This year, I've created a brand new recipe especially for the Ideal Home Show at Christmas. It's simple to make and utterly delicious - you can find it at the end of this blog.
If you're hunting down drinks for Christmas parties, I've found a sensational white wine bargain at Majestic - Aspen Pinot Grigio 2011 from Australia, just £4.99 and, for a party tipple, it is light, refreshing and perfectly simple. As for fizz, Prosecco has been a big hit this year but if you hurry to Tesco.com, its bubbly Tesco Brut Cava is just £3.79 online at the moment - perfect party fizz. If you're after a beer, Thornbridge Brewery gets my vote - its Jaipur IPA is an intense citrus spanker and its Wild Swan is light, easy and refreshing - smashing beers from a leading brewery.
In my book Eat & Drink, I pair recipes with drinks to show how the combinations can unleash a hidden dimension, a playful sense of adventure and deliver extra enjoyment with a touch of ingenuity. Parkin with Mincemeat Ice Cream paired with my Chai Latte recipe is one of my favourite winter treats. And if you pop along to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, I'd be delighted to sign you a copy of my book and share more tips with you!
For more info on the inaugural Ideal Home Show at Christmas visit idealhomeshowatchristmas.co.uk. You can also ask Olly your drinks questions on Twitter, Facebook and through his website, ollysmith.com.
Olly's Mulled Wine Recipe
Red Wine 1 bottle Cuvée Chasseur 2010 from Waitrose.
Orange Juice (no bits) 100ml
Half an orange studded with 4 cloves (Cloves are a powerful flavour so I prefer to keep it subtle. You can add more cloves if you wish to boost the Christmas flavour).
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 vanilla pod halved lengthways
Dark Muscovado sugar 100-120 grams depending on taste (I love it sweet!)
Olly's Mulled Wine: Method
Pour the orange juice into the pan and add the Dark Muscovado Sugar.
Dissolve to make an even syrup.
Add the orange studded with cloves.
Gently pour in the red wine.
Warm up gently but do not boil or you risk losing the booze.
Add the spices.
Gently warm for 8 minutes but do not boil.
After 8 minutes, add the Port - it boosts and enriches flavour and colour.
Gently stir and leave to warm for 2 more minutes.
Remove the orange and spices and serve warm in glass mugs with an orange twist for a garnish.