taste.blas Christmas guide 2020.
Christmas, although normally a time of celebration, can present its own challenges. What do you buy for the person who has everything? Or the family member who cannot abide Cliff Richard?
One answer lies in the world of Welsh food and drink. There is a glut of competition in the UK's culinary industry, but Wales has repeatedly demonstrated that it leads the way in artisan food, including some of the finest cheeses, confectionary, local produce, and sustainably-farmed meat in Europe.
Our proud nation is also increasingly becoming the “next big thing” in premium wine production. France, with its clement climes, may have mastered the process of turning grapes into wine, but Welsh winegrowers have cottoned on to the fact that local soils are ideal for the cultivation of several fine grape varieties. More traditionally, Celtic Country Wines in Llandysul is continuing to win praise for its excellent fruit wines – and they're not alone!
Of course, we must not forget that this is a difficult and unprecedented period for everyone. Yet there are real reasons for optimism – Christmas is the ideal time to celebrate our glorious food and drink culture. Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, family businesses in Wales are thriving and continuing to support our communities. The following provides a snapshot of their suggestions for a unique and delicious Christmas gift. Unlike the latest gadget or blue-ray, everything we've showcased is 100% grown and made in Wales. Give the images a click to shop products.
The best of Welsh sea salt, cheeses and great meat - gift sets and hampers for Christmas
Pembrokshire Sea Salt Co – 'A Little Taste Of The Sea' Gift Box
This family-run business continues to produce artisan sea salts of the highest quality. This attractive matchbox-style gift set gives a nod to the firm's early days, when chef samples were given out in tiny matchboxes, put together lovingly by the owners. Containing six 8g vials of their award-winning natural and flavoured salts, including one premium flavour (saffron or truffle), this little box makes a perfect gift or sample selection for imaginative cooks, food lovers and anyone with discerning taste.
£12.50 including free postage
Edwards of Conwy – Local Turkey and Gammon Hamper
Edwards of Conwy is one of Wales' leading premium butchers. Only using sustainably-reared livestock, this family firm puts quality and welfare before profits. The businesses' fantastic turkey and gammon hamper, although a bit of a splurge, more than merits the cost. It includes: one pack of Edwards pigs in blankets, one jar of Welsh Lady Preserve cranberry sauce, a 4.5-5.5kg artisan turkey and a 1kg gammon joint. That's Christmas on you, then!
Merlin Cheeses – Christmas Hampers
Do you know an aficionado of fine Welsh cheeses? Then you should look no further for an ideal festive treat. This boutique and family-run enterprise has put together several Christmas hampers to make your mouth water. These fine hampers will contain a variety of 12 different 200g Cheddar cheeses infused with herbs, fruits or spices. There are also some aromatic Welsh chutneys from Pantri Swswen and crackers from Cradocs up for grabs. A cheese lovers dream.
The Welsh Cheese Company – Festive Snowdonia Trio Hamper
The Welsh Cheese Company provides another example of the surge of interest in locally-produced food products over the past few years. With their customer base soaring, the firm has maintained two eyes on quality and craftsmanship. This luxutu hamper contains three luxury cheeses, including the signature Black Bomber, which has won a host of awards and been named the UK’s favourite cheese for several years in a row. This trio of delicious cheeses, which also showcases the Port and brandy-flavoured Ruby Mist, is presented in a smart 10 inch wicker hamper.
£26.30 (plus 4.89 delivery charge)
The perfect gifts for a boozy Christmas
Fine Wines Direct – The Classic Christmas Case
Imagine someone else taking the hassle out of selecting the perfect gift for a wine buff. Penarth-based Fine Wines Direct have done just that. Their experienced and friendly team have put together the ultimate wine gift case, boasting excellent vintages from Rioja, New Zealand, Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy. It brings together the best of fine wine in one brilliant and unbeatable Christmas package.
Aber Falls Distillery – Christmas Eve Pack
In the world of hand-crafted, locally-produced spirits, Wales has few peers. Aber Falls is arguably the finest distillery in Wales, located within a stone’s throw of the spectacular Rhaeadr Fawr, the famous Aber Falls waterfall. Their small production gins and liqueurs are excellent – this irresistible gift pack offers a 70cl bottle of Aber Falls Gingerbread Liqueur, in addition to a sample of artisan hot chocolate from local firm Welsh Brew, paired with an Aber Falls distillery mug. Snap it up quick.
Hensol Castle Distillery – Flavoured Gin Gift Packs
Gin's meteoric rise to fame over the past decade is largely thanks to the enormous success of craft distilleries making the spirit hip again. Hensol Castle Distillery has been at the forefront of this revolution, but they're not becoming complacent. The highest standards continue to shine through their range of gins, which this fantastic gift pack nicely demonstrates. Four bottles, including a strawberry and orange zest-flavored gin are up for grabs. It was once derided as “granny's tipple.” Now gin is a hipsters' dream.
A festive nod to Wales' finest fruit wines
Celtic Country Wines – Christmas Sparkling Wine Gift Pack
Celtic Country Wines maintains a longstanding and proud tradition of producing country wines, made from the best fruit grown on exceptional Welsh soils. This Christmas sparkling gift pack is ideal for oenophiles who wish to explore beyond Champagne and Prosecco. It includes your choice of two bottles of sparkling wine in a stylish and decorative Christmas box. With a choice of an elderflower and raspberry sparkling wine – alternatively you can select two bottles of the same variety - this gift pack will start Christmas Day on a fizzy note.