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John Wilson’s top 20 wines, beers and spirits for 2023

The biggest difficulty was deciding what to leave out

I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to taste a huge number of wines, spirits, beers and other drinks every year. The biggest difficulty I had in compiling this list was what to leave out. I could easily have listed 50 or more red wines and the same of white, not to mention countless spirits and beers. I have tried to include as many less expensive wines and other drinks as possible, while still giving you a few wines for a special treat.


Redbreast Single Pot Still 12-year-old

40%, €69

A favourite of mine, and many others too. Rich and textured with masses of flavour, toasted nuts, caramel and dried Christmas fruits. The perfect after-dinner drink to enjoy sip by sip on Christmas Day.

From Widely available from off-licences.


Wicklow Wolf Elevation Pale Ale

4.8%, €2.75-3.50 for a 440ml can

Available on draught in several of my locals, this is my go-to craft beer. Intensely hoppy, bursting with citrus and pineapple fruits, with just the right level of bitterness.


From Widely available from off-licences


Kinnegar Low Tide

1%, €2.50-€2.75 for a 440ml can

Low and no-alcohol beer is getting better every year. The Kinnegar Low Tide has become a favourite midweek drink in the Wilson household, offering very beer-like flavours with just 1% alcohol. Lightly hoppy with fresh citrus, and light-IPA-style fruit.

From Widely available from off-licences and


Primitivo Collantes Amontillado Fossi NV, Jerez

17.5%, €35

This has the tangy saline toasted almond and hazelnut flavours you expect from an Amontillado, but also some orange peel and a very attractive rounded fruitiness. Drink lightly chilled with walnuts, aged Pecorino or Comté.

From Blackrock Cellar; Morton’s, Galway; McCurtain Wines, Cork; Green Man Wines, D6W


Santa Tresa Il Grillo Spumante Brut, Organic

12.5%, €18.95 down from €21.95

I enjoyed this sparkling wine several times in 2023. Very elegant with nicely defined pear and redcurrant fruits, finishing dry. Streets ahead of most Prosecco. A lovely aperitif or with nibbles.

From O’Briens

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV

12.5%, €69-€84

A perennial favourite of mine, the Brut Réserve is a wonderful Champagne, rich with mouth-watering ripe peaches and toasted almonds, balanced perfectly by a fine mousse and elegant acidity.

From Widely available from O’Briens and independent wine shops


Specially Selected Marsanne 2022, IGP Pays d’oc

13%, €8.99

A simple but very gluggable fresh white wine. Succulent melon fruits with a spicy touch. Try it with salads, seafood or light chicken recipes. It would also make a good budget party wine.

From Aldi

Laurent Miguel Côte 128 Viognier 2022, IGP d’Oc

13.5%, €10.40

Featured earlier this year, this has to be one of the best value white wines at the moment. Even if you aren’t a fan of viognier, you will be seduced by the fresh succulent peach and nectarine fruits and the mouth-watering citrus acidity. Enjoy it alongside seared salmon, or Thai prawns and crab dishes.

From Dunnes Stores

Marks & Spencer Ribolla Gialla 2022, Venezia Giulia

12%, €11.75

Made from a local indigenous grape, this is a light wine with juicy fresh stone fruits, almonds, and a lip-smacking dry finish. Drink it with all kinds of fish and shellfish, or light salads. A great alternative to Pinot Grigio.

From Marks & Spencer

D’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne, 2021 McLaren Vale, Australia

14%, €18.95

Fragrant with luscious moreish pineapple and peach fruits shot through with a bolt of citrus acidity. Perfect with spicy, herby Asian prawn and chicken dishes.

From Jus De Vine; Kellys Wine Vault; Nolans Supermarket; Martins, D3; Whelehan’s; Loughlinstown; Pinto Wines D9; Myles Creek, Kilkee; La Touche Wines, Greystones; Eldons, Clonmel

Bruno Lupin, Roussette de Savoie, Frangy 2022

12.5%, €23-€24

Soft and light with succulent crystalline pears and lemon peel. A little off the beaten track but well worth seeking out. Drink it before dinner, or with the local Beaufort cheese.

From Le; Mitchell & Son; 64wine; Blackrock Cellars; The Drink Store, D7; Lillith, D7; Manning’s Emporium, Cork.

Vigna Marina Coppi Fausto Timorasso Colli Tortonesi 2020

14%, €55.95

A beautiful, expressive wine with delicious plush orchard fruits shot through with refined mineral acidity. Try it with lobster or Dublin Bay prawns for a real blowout.

From Blackrock Cellar; Redmonds, D6; The Corkscrew, D2


Château Lacombe Cadiot 2020, Bordeaux Supéreur

14%, €12.99

A very attractive Bordeaux with blackcurrants and cassis, a touch of cedarwood, and ripe tannins on the finish. Great value for money.

From SuperValu

Soplo 2021 Rafael Cambra, Fontars del Alforins, DO Valencia, Organic

13.5%, €15-€16

A very gluggable, richly fruity organic wine at a fantastic price. Supple, brimming with rounded red fruits and a smooth finish.

From; Sweeney’s, D3; Green Man, D6W; 64Wine, Glasthule; Liliput, D7; Wicklow Wine Co.; Baggot Street Wines; A Taste of Spain, D2; Marlow & Co, D8; D-Six

Le Cerisier Pinot Noir 2022, IGP, Domaine Begude Organic

13%, €17.95

I enjoyed this wine numerous times during the year. As well as making some superb keenly priced chardonnay, James Kinglake fashions several very high-quality pinots. The Le Cerisier is light and fresh with delicious piquant red cherry and raspberry fruits. Serve cool as an aperitif, with charcuterie, firm cheeses or salmon.

From O’Briens

Pinot Noir La Roncière 2022, André Vatan, Vin de Loire

12.5%, €20

A very seductive pinot noir at a great price. Soft ripe juicy red cherry fruits and a rounded finish. Great on its own, with charcuterie, duck, or a red pepper and goat’s cheese frittata.

From Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown

Camino Real 2021, Ribeira Sacra

13.5%, €25-€26

Ribeira Sacra in northwest Spain is one of the most beautiful vineyards of all, and the wines can be wonderful too. I bought this delicious wine several times over the last year. If you are a fan of lighter more elegant wines, I suggest you do the same. A glass full of perfumed, refined, sweet, silky smooth red and black fruits finishing on a savoury note. Great with most white meats, or duck.

From 64wine, Green Man, D6W; MacCurtain, Cork; Pinto, D9; Blackrock Cellar; Martin’s, D3

Blaufränkisch Johanneshöhe Oggau 2019 Georg Prieler, Austria (Organic)

13%, €27

Great wines gush forth from the cellars of Georg Prieler. This is fresh with silky dark cherry and blackberry fruits and an attractive grippy finish. Delightful wine.

From Blackrock Cellar; Ely, Maynooth; The Corkscrew D2; Greenman, D6W; Pinto, D9; Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown; Martin’s, D3

Magoutes Red 2020, Siatista, Naoussa, Greece

13%, €28.95

This was just one of many great Greek wines from new importer Oinos Wines. Resolve to drink more Greek wine in 2024. Made from the indigenous Xinomavro grape, this is fragrant and floral with easy concentrated red fruits and smooth tannins.

From Nelly’s, D9; Corkscrew, D2; Green Man Wines, D6W; Blackrock Cellar; Redmonds, Sweeney’s, D3; Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown

Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2022, Tasmania

13.5%, €70-€80

Cool climate Tasmania produces some of the finest pinots in Australia, and Tolpuddle leads the pack. Beautifully aromatic with intense dark cherry fruits, savoury spice, good supporting acidity and fine tannins.

From; 64 Wine, Glasthule; The Corkscrew, D2; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; Blackrock Cellar; Avoca