Christmas – a time of giving, taking and over-indulgence – particularly when it comes to food and drink. And what could be more seasonal than spoiling yourself to a decent wine and platter of cheese? But this yuletide, why not be patriotic too, and follow the example of Jessica Mann and the Randolph Hotel’s Maitre D’ Giuseppe Vurchio as they champion the best of English wines and cheeses.

English wine... not a typical pairing of words.

People are familiar with vino from around the world, but not many can name a wine made in England. English wine is more elusive. Rare actually. But why?

Well, small family-run wineries don’t make enough to supply large market chains (which is why you don’t see them in Sainsbury’s) and tend to be too luxurious for economical restaurants and pubs to sell.

Yet by the end of the year, with recommendations from the likes of Rick Stein, most of the stock of these smaller vineyards is gone.

But as Christmas is now on our doorstep, I think it’s just the impetus we all need to sample some home-grown nectar.

Due to England’s cool, wet, climate, the grape variety is limited. Even with global warming.

However, the most widespread varieties compare to those in Germany, Northern France and high altitude Old World styles. And surprisingly, the most successful English wine is sparkling.

Since the early 1990s, Nyetimber Vineyard has been winning awards in blind tastings against Champagne.

Indeed, the growing conditions and soil now are just as good, if not better than Champagne itself (there have even been rumours that vineyards from France are buying up land in England to make their own sparkling wine).

Now, assuming that you do successfully seek out a decent bottle or two of English plonk, what should you eat with it?

Cheese is the obvious answer, and while we’re in a flag-waving mood, why not take a chance on English varieties?

Fortunately, Oxford’s Randolph Hotel Maitre D’, Giuseppe Vurchio agrees with me, which is why we set ourselves the challenge of matching the perfect English wines to the perfect English cheeses. It was a tough assignment, but as we constantly reminded ourselves, somebody had to do it.

So here, just in time for December 25, are our findings.

Remember, if you do intend to follow our recommendations, eat cheese responsibly...

And the final results are in no particular order (as they say on The X Factor): l The Ridgeview Cavendish, a golden wine with plenty of fine bubbles. It has a soft, yet complex aroma of red raspberries and tastes slightly of biscuit. The Hereford Hop completely compliments this wine, enhancing the brioche flavours and bringing out the best of both. Ridgeview Cavendish sparkling wine is found at Oddbins for £19.99.

l Three Choirs Vineyards Rosé is onionskin colour, with a summer fruit bouquet. It’s dry and full bodied, but I found it a bit acidic, which is why the Old Worcester White goes perfectly with it. The creamy white cheese mellows out this sharp wine. It’s £6.95 from, or a few local shops in Gloucestershire.

l Camel Valley Rosé, is a pale garnet in colour with intense floral fragrance. It’s a dry wine that has complex bright fruit flavours. This was the hardest to pair as it was the best to drink alone. It’s a delicate wine and most cheeses overwhelmed it. The decision was left to our pro, Giuseppe, who chose a Cornish Yarg.

Camel Valley Rosé can be bought from for £11.95. The 2008 is sold out so you must wait until May to buy the next vintage.

l The Oxford Regatta is deep ruby with a slight medicinal scent mixed with smoke. It is dry and well balanced with a medium length. It is acidic so not easy to drink on its own. It matched well with the Oxford Blue. You can buy direct from Brightwell Vineyard in Wallingford, 01491 832354, order a bottle at lunch in the Cherwell Boathouse or buy it from the Oxford Wine Company, for £9.95.

l Astley Late Harvest is a sweet wine, but not so sugary it overpowers the zest and tropical fruit flavours. This paired beautifully with the Oxford Isis. Buy direct for £9.95, from the vineyard by calling 01299 822907.