We’d all love to serve up bucket loads of festive fizz, but affording the posh stuff doesn’t come cheap.
You don’t have to worry, though. With the surge in sparkle sales this time of year, there are plenty of cheaper options and – let’s face it – when you’re in full party mode, the bubbles can become a bit of a blur.
Indeed, looks can be deceiving and if you serve a glass of prosecco, cava or crémant as elegantly as you would a fine champagne, chances are your friends won’t notice the difference.
Victoria Burt, WSET wine expert, reveals how to select and serve sparkling wine to see you through the season…
1. Try something new
Champagne is the best-known premium sparkling wine, but it’s certainly not your only option. Look for bottles labelled ‘traditional method’ – this describes the technique used to make champagne and most other premium sparkling wines from across the world.
2. Keep it fresh
A cool, constant environment out of strong light is best for long-term storage, as warmer temperatures can cause the wine to taste older more quickly. When served, sparkling wines should be well chilled between 6-10°C. Not only does this make the wine more refreshing to drink, it also lowers the pressure in the bottle, so the cork comes out more gently.
3. If you don’t have enough flutes or coupes, don’t worry!
While they may not be the classic choice, Burt’s Master of Wine research paper on the impact of glassware on the perception of champagne revealed that a simple white wine glass can actually be the best shape to enhance the aromas and flavours of your bubbles.
4. Coordinate your canapés
A classic dry white fizz goes perfectly with smoked salmon blinis, as the mouthwatering acidity cuts through the oily fish, while sweeter styles work well with melon and prosciutto bites, complementing the sugar in the fruit and counterbalancing the salt in the meat.
5. A festive twist
Sparkling wines don’t need to be limited to the aperitif. Sparkling reds, such as a frothy dry Lambrusco, are becoming increasingly popular, and pair well with festive treats such as cured meats, cheeses and pâtés – the refreshing acidity and bubbles cleansing the palate.