Anytime we plan to celebrate an occasion (or just feel like a glass of something special), we often choose to buy sparkling wine.
There’s just something about the ‘pop’ of the cork and the sparkle of the bursting bubbles. But how do we choose which one to go for? Have you always just based your choice on a brand, a type of bubbly you’ve had before and know you like or simply by an attractive label? We’d like to help you decipher some of the mysteries of different types of fizz, so next time you know exactly what you’re after and maybe discover something delicious you haven’t tried before.
French bubbles: there is a range to choose from here, even though you might just be thinking Champagne. At entry level, there are some nice dry wines with label terms such as ‘Brut Mousseux’, which just means dry sparkling. Perfect for cocktails if you’re looking for a simple inexpensive sparkly base. If you see ‘Cremant’ on the label, this wine is made in the same way as Champagne, just not in the Champagne region and offers more depth and complexity than a Mousseux. Some fruitier Chenin based Cremant comes from the Loire Valley, great as an aperitif and if you’re looking for something slightly less dry. And then, of course, there is Champagne. The non-vintage (NV on the label or simply no vintage year) Champagne will give you consistent ‘house style’, i.e. the same flavours in every bottle you buy from the same producer. Great aperitif and food accompaniment (think seafood) and will deliver that light toasted note of Champagne. The vintage styles are richer, more complex and vary with vintage years. Great for savouring and pairing with richer foods. Try using a fairly slim wine glass for these (as opposed to a flute) to release all the fine aromas and don’t over-chill (10C). Another term to look out for if you like a sweeter fizz is Demi-Sec, which tastes fairly sweet and fruity (and perfect with fresh fruit!).
Italian bubbles: Prosecco is a very popular choice at the moment, mostly due to the fact that it is much less dry than most other sparkling wines. Extra Dry on the label actually means it is less dry than Brut, so bear this in mind if looking for a fruitier Prosecco. Franciacorta is an Italian bubbly made using the so-called ‘Traditional Method’, which is the way Champagne is made. It is drier and toastier than Prosecco. A few other Italian terms which may help you are ‘Spumante’, which means fully sparkling and ‘Frizzante’, which has slightly lighter fizz, but can offer better value and a simpler closure (such as a crown cap or a screwcap) – this will come in handy at a busy party!
Spanish bubbles: Cava can be a real treat. Again, it is made using ‘Traditional Method’ and combines the light toasty notes with riper fruit flavours (Catalonia is certainly warmer than Champagne!). Great for accompanying light salty nibbles and for mixing.
Non-European bubbles: there are some fantastic alternatives to Champagne at great prices, such as South African ‘Cap Classique’ wines (Traditonal Method) and ‘Bottle Fermented’ or ‘Traditional Method’ wines from Australia and New Zealand. The winemakers often use the same grape varieties as Champagne, as well as the techniques and produce delicious wines, which are often much better quality than the lower priced Champagnes.
We hope this helps you, and if you need any further advice choosing your celebratory bubbles (even if it is just to celebrate the fact that it’s a Wednesday), please give us a call or drop us an e-mail and we will be more than happy to assist.