Yohoho! Festive season has arrived and as usual it will probably involve a drink or two. Sobriety may be challenged, and usual quality standards in wine, beer and spirits may be undermined, but if you're careful you can survive it with ideals and dignity intact. Remember the adage that it's better to drink less, but better. One glass of delicious sparkling wine is preferable to two of awful stuff. And pricing is a fluid thing at this time of year, so shop around for the best prices on your favourites.
Piper-Heidsieck Red Label Brut NV, $45-$55
Few champagnes have improved as much as this over the past few decades. Often discounted, it's equal to some NVs at much higher prices. Subtle toasty, yeasty notes track apple and citrus through a clean, ripely persistent classic style. Cork; 12 per cent alcohol.
Stockists include BWS stores; Dan Murphy's stores.
Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin, $45-$62 (700ml); $65-$85 (1 litre)
Gin is big, and new variations arrive all the time. Bombay, an old established brand, remains outstanding. Delicate floral, citrus and juniper characters give zest and crispness, and its understated power makes it a great all-rounder. Screw cap; 40 per cent alcohol.
Stockists include Dan Murphy's stores; 1st Choice stores.
Radeberger Pilsner (330ml), $40-$55 (24 bottle case)
Bought by the case, this refined German brew is amazing value compared to some lacklustre international names. Fine floral hop and pale malt aromas are clean and inviting; a gentle, smooth palate has a balanced hoppy tang. 4.8 per cent alcohol.
Stockists include Vintage Cellars stores; 1st Choice stores.