As we find ourselves on the brink of this year’s Festive season, with Santa likely to deliver a few more financial concerns than last Christmas, a view of how we focus expenditure, rather than restrict it, may well come in handy. I am talking about the increase in alcohol consumption the season inspires, and the expensive imbibing that frequently follows.

I am not for one moment advocating a Norfolk temperance movement anymore than I am recommending any form of restraint – perish the thought. What I do feel though, is that with a few more carefully chosen bottles, we can find greater pleasure for a proportionately reduced outlay.

One aspect of this prudent selection is the quality and nature of your wines coupled with their ‘function’ during the celebrations. If you want your wine to offer a cheap alcohol delivery system day or night, then my opinions here are of little use. Should you wish to enhance your various drinking intervals with impressive quality and memorable flavours, some thoughts that could up the game and diminish the cost, may prove worthwhile.

The first task is to make sure the wines you single out for any gastronomic moments, whether it’s turkey, fish, plum pudding or mere roast chestnuts, are appropriate and exciting. Just think of wine as an extra ‘ingredient’ to be combined thoughtfully, with every mouthful.

One common mistake is to judge that an ‘expensive’ meal needs a ‘pricey’ wine, or that modest turkey leftovers with home-made pickle can be enhanced with anything less then a well selected bottle. So the seasonal formula may be; 1 + 1 = 3, a piece of gastronomic arithmetic suggesting that a well chosen food and wine pairing could well exceed its sum, and become more memorable than its constituent parts. A third more value to your beleaguered pound, all in the blink of an eye.

A couple of drops of Cassis can turn the most inexpensive dry fizz into a pre-prandial refresher such as the classic Kir Royale. Select biscuity Cava, robust Prosecco or one of the many Cremants from France, in favour of expensive Champagne for this essential but carefree aperitif. If you started your meal with creamy paté, you might share a half bottle of late Harvest Riesling or one of the delicious sweet wines from the Loire valley. This is the sort of pairing that creates rich experience and grand occasion at the beginning of a meal. Next up with a fresh, green, homemade soup perhaps, Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine rather than Sancerre would send refreshing messages to your digestive system at a fraction of the cost. Shellfish would benefit from the vigorous flavours of Chardonnay, but pick from Macon not Chablis for value. By contrast, big expensive new World Chardonnays will provide an exciting fruit bomb in your mouth but may not necessarily offer a food friendly reward.

Fish courses could be complemented with either red or white. There are some fabulous, yet economical Beaujolais Crus, offering a subtle sheen of red fruit without overpowering a dish, whilst Muscadet remains an overlooked white wine that marries so well, and inexpensively, with delicate fish. With a meat course think of the weight of flavours; game and turkey would partner great value wines from the south of France, good Fitou, Minervois or Corbieres are still hard to beat at their price level as are some Riojas from Spain. Expensive Bordeaux, (i.e. Claret} on the other hand, often opened too young, may be a costly disappointment. The Rhône valley can provide unexpected value, with Côtes du Rhône or Vacqueyras happily sitting alongside more robust beef dishes, displaying the best of spicy Grenache Rouge and peppery Syrah. Finally a small bottle of chilled Tawny Port, dispensed in shot glasses, would create a life enhancing marriage with most chocolate desserts. So with a seasonal lunch or dinner, you have experienced half a dozen exciting and memorable wines, turning your meal into the domestic equivalent of a restaurant ‘tasting’ menu, with an outlay of only one bottle of each wine comfortably shared between four, or even six.

We should never forget that whatever we consume should be fondly considered from the outset. Eating is that special seasonal moment when you have stopped all other activities, stressful or tedious, and dedicated time to food, friends and family. So let’s bring more interesting combinations to the table; imaginatively, economically and literally perhaps, making more discerning use of our wine partnerships, as well as our budget this year.