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How to choose a bubbly

The ceremony is over and it is time for a little indulgence, whether it be as part of an intimate gathering after the ultimate adrenaline rush or at a party back at home, it is a great feeling to celebrate by cracking open the bubbly.

Champagne bottle

With the price of champagne being a lot more per glass than a pint of beer or a rum and coke it is no wonder we only tend to drink it on special occasions. Understanding the grapes will help make the decision about what sparkling wine or champagne to buy a bit easier. Also, by doing a bit of homework you will be able to choose a bottle that you are actually going to enjoy.

How to choose?

There are many options available ranging from £5 a bottle for sparkling wine to over £200 a bottle for a vintage champagne. The key to your selection is to read the label, amongst other things it is trying to provide 2 vital bits of information:

  • The sweetness of the wine
  • The grape it is made from
  • The sweetness

    The most popular, commonly available bubbly is brut, which is dry, however if you have a sweeter palette there are others to choose from. For those of you with the sweetest tooth, it is advisable to only serve Doux as a dessert wine.

    • Doux - very sweet
    • Demi-Sec - sweet
    • Sec - slightly sweet
    • Extra Sec - slightly dry
    • Brut - dry
    • Brut zero - extra dry
  • The Grapes

    For a sparkling wine to be called Champagne it must be produced in the Champagne region of France.

    The grapes must be the white Chardonnay, or the black Pinot (Noir or Meunier). Most Champagnes are made from a blend of both Chardonnay and Pinot grapes, however there are a few that only Chardonnay grapes (Blanc de blanc - white of white) or only Pinot grapes (Blanc de noir - white of black).

    Rosé champagne differs slightly from this rule as a small amount of red wine is added during blending.

    A blend made mainly of Chardonnay grapes taste appley and honeyed. A blend made mainly of Pinot grapes is softer and fruity. Rosé champagne has a reddish tint and takes on a hint of the red berries from the red wine used in blending.

  • Suggested reasonably priced buys

    Veuve Clicquot (pronounced vuhv klee-KOH) Yellow Label - a dry Champagne blended with of two-thirds Pinot and one-third Chardonnay. It has a complex aroma of apple, citrus and caramel followed by crispness and a slightly spicy finish.

    Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial - a well balanced champagne, subtle pear and lime flavours, with a clean, zesty finish.

    Mumm Cordon Rosé - a beautiful salmon pink colour with luscious flavours of red fruits, caramel and vanilla and a long, lingering finish.

  • Alternative to Champagne

    Asti is a sparkling wine produced in the Asti region in Italy. It is made from the Moscato grape, it is available in two varieties a sparkling wine known as Asti spumante and a frizzante called Moscato d'Asti. Both are sweet and low in alcohol.

    Cava is the name of a type of white or pink sparkling wine, produced mainly in Catalonia in Spain. It can provide a good cheaper alternative to champagne and like champagne it comes in varying levels of sweetness. There are loads of good Cava's, so shop around.

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