“They say fish should swim thrice, first it should swim in the sea then it should swim in butter, and at last, sirrah, it should swim in good claret.” - Jonathan Swift

Christmas means lots of things to different people, peace, love, the time for giving and the time to sit on a chubby fellas knee but for me, it means it’s time for Claret.

Yes, folks, claret, but definitely not the cheap rubbish and definitely not if it says claret on the label.

We are of course talking about red Bordeaux, the classic Cabernet, Merlot blend (yeah, yeah, there are other grapes as well) that’s now copied the whole world over.

Some of the claret styles from Margaret River in Australia and from South Africa are really getting there now but if you’re prepared to spend the moular, the very best in the world still come from Bordeaux.

Its broken down into several denominated areas each of which produces a unique style with slightly different blends of the five classic grapes but my personal favourites are St Julien and Pauillac, the latter of which produces some of the most sensual mind blowing wines you could imagine.

Three of arguably the five finest wines in the world come from Pauillac as well as one of my all time favourite loves, Ch Pichon Longueville.

Mind you, St Julian is a real temptress with sultry wines such as Leoville Barton and Leoville las Cases.

Some of you are probably wondering if the cheese has slid off my toastie for recommending claret for the special day but let’s face it, Christmas dinner isn’t normal is it?

Meat, stuffing, brussels, pigs in blankets and much more besides and I’ve yet to meet the claret that can overpower that lot.

Pauillac and St Julian are of course dominated by my favourite grape, Cabernet, which the Bordeaux vineyards have a particular mastery of but you do have to be selective because too many of the cheap clarets are a crime against humanity borne out of an obsession that the name itself will sell the product.

It may be snobby of me but heck, even us Northerners can be a trifle selective at times, but I tend to find anything sub £15 from Bordeaux is either a very very special offer or just a tad ropy for my liking.

Now, because it’s Christmas and some of you may be secretly rich, here’s my personal bucket list of fantasy wines and you don’t even need to wrap them for me. Pip pip

Ch Cantenac Brown 3eme classe, Margaux

One of the most powerfu Margauxs Ive ever tasted with aromatic autumn fruits mingling nicely with toasty oak.

Wine&The Vine £76.25 per bottle

Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac

Surely one of the best wines ever made. Lush sensual fruits, well integrated tannins and a fabulous ripe finish.

Berry Bros & Rudd £1370.00 per case of 12

Ch Latour, 1er cru, Pauillac 2005

The best wine I’ve ever tasted. Deep, dark fruits with rich jammy cassis and hints of vanilla. The oak is noticeable in a really attractive toasty, nutty way and the finish is the longest I’ve ever experienced.

Farr Vintners, £5600 per case of 6

Gerard Richardson MBE, drinks columnist for Newsquest