August 11, 2020
News Opinion

WINE O’CLOCK: If Champagne doesn’t pop your cork, these might

So you want some nice fizz to add sparkle to your Christmas but you don’t want to fork out for Champagne? I wrote recently about the obvious alternatives, Cava from Spain, and Prosecco from Italy. There are others.

A good French Crémant is an excellent choice. It is made from the same grapes as Champagne, and by the same method, but sells at about half the price. Crémant de Bourgone is said to be closer to Champagne than the more common Crémant de Loire, but, to be honest, I can’t tell the difference.

Crémant de Bourgogne Simmonnet-Febvre (€24.99 Worldwide Wines, Waterford) will certainly impress your guests.

Or you could try Crémant d’Alsace. Aldi have a nice one that is very good value at €12.99.

Prosecco is not the only sparkling wine from Italy. Le Caveau in Kilkenny has some interesting alternatives.

They include Angiolino Maule Garg’n’Go IGP, a gentle frizzante from the Veneto region. There is a hint of peach or apricot to it and it makes a great aperitif.

I haven’t tried 1701 Franciacorta Brut DOCG (€37.60) but it sounds interesting. It’s a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and, according to Le Caveau “the palate is full and generous – green and red apple, brioche and citrus notes – wonderfully balanced by racy and vibrant mineral character”.

A bottle of bubbly should stretch to about six Champagne flutes, good to keep in mind  if you are wondering how much you will need. Standard wine glasses will hold more.

Sparkling wine looks better in a flute because the shape lets the bubbles bounce to the top. But it doesn’t improve the taste. Neither do those strange, round glasses, known as a coupe, which used to be popular but have, thankfully, gone out of fashion.

The first one is said to have been moulded from the left breast of Marie Antoinette. Let them eat cake and drink Champagne with it, she didn’t say.

Whatever sparkler you are drinking.don’t serve it straight from the fridge.  The ideal temperature is 8 to 10c. So lightly chilled is the way to go.

MICHAEL WOLSEY

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