If we sip the wine, we find dreams coming upon us out of the imminent night.

D.H. Lawrence

All of 2018’s best alcoholic surprises seemed to be gin-based, whether it was sparkly unicorns or gin inspired by the Roman soldiers on Hadrian's Wall, and while I'm fairly certain gin will stay on top for 2019, I'm going to throw in a pitch for Chinese wine. Yes folks, Chinese wine. And I'm not talking about the rubbish on offer in most of the restaurants, I'm talking about the real thing. I was sent a sample in a stone bottle several years ago and heaven knows what was in it but I was scared to even flush it down the drain!

Wine has been made in China for thousands of years but until very recently, the best was like dirty dishwater and the worst was gut rot, but then along came the Europeans to clean up the act.

China actually has several fabulous climatic regions that are perfect for wine and all my mocking aside, they are heading on a path that will ultimately lead to your wine rack in the near future.

China is actually one of the top ten wine markets in the world and while they still have a preference for French styles at the moment, it’s inevitable that they will find a taste for their own products, which is why some of the more forward thinking old world winemakers have been setting up partnerships there.

Chateau Junding from the Shandong region are producing some really elegant French-style reds and their Oriental red made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot is a match for many of the old world classics. Chateau Zhongfei make a single varietal Merlot that compares well with many a mid-priced Californian, although they definitely need to check the label designer's medication.

My favourite Chinese vineyard though, is Chateau Changyu Moser, which was developed in consultation with the award-winning Lenz Moser from Austria. The unusual thing about this is that I find his Austrian wines boring! True, they are clean, almost clinical examples of what Austrian wine should be, but to be honest I've just never fallen in love with Austria as a wine country. Their whites tend to be either too sweet or bone-suckingly dry and their reds are as uninspiring as Primark's fashion week. It turns out that all Lenz needed was a fresh geographical start, because his Chinese wines are gobsmackingly lovely and novel enough to make the ideal gift for a wine lover in 2019.

Anyway, there we are, my wild and slightly left field prediction for the year is that Chinese wines will be gracing more and more wine racks by Christmas time but don't give up on the gin yet as my old friend and celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli is rumoured to be dabbling with a gin that has a nod to the Mediterranean and I for one can't wait to taste it.

Anyway, it’s time for me to uncork my takeaway, so it’s pip pip from me until next week folks.

Changyu Noble Dragon Cab Gernisht, China

A rather floral style of red with lots of youthful juicy fruits backed up by touches of toasty oak. Soft tannins just add a little body to this very pleasant wine

Sainsburys £10.00

Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet, Chile

This is a tremendous wine and worth twice the price in my view. Rich, complex fruits with soft, well integrated tannins and a long smooth finish. Superb with lamb and roast dinners.

Wine Rack £13.99

  • Gerard Richardson is a wine columnist for Newsquest