Sparkling Wine For Christmas
It’s that time of year again and, whilst there may be a few ‘bah humbugs’ out there, I love this time of year. However, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the sound of corks popping and bubbles pouring.
Whether you’re attending dinner parties, office gatherings or family reunions, we all love a sparkling wine. Whilst many people drink Prosecco all year-round, it’s often sales of the other sparkling wines that soar during the festive season and our thoughts turn to Champagne and English Sparkling Wine.
Choosing your Sparkling Wine for Xmas
Before you buy your sparkling wine for Christmas there are a few things to consider such as cost, number of people, food pairing and quality etc. Whilst budgets are often ignored during the festive season just think about the number of bottles required. Usually you can work out the number of bottles by dividing the number of guests by six (or eight if you’re less generous!). If you are buying wine for a large group of people you may want to opt for a cheaper wine, so consider traditionally made Cava instead of the more trendy Prosecco. You should also be aware of the differences before you buy your wine, so you know what you are purchasing.
Prosecco comes from north-eastern Italy and is made from the Glera grape using the Charmat (or Martinotti) method. This method is faster and cheaper than the traditional process used to make Champagne, English Sparkling Wine and Cava. Prosecco tends to be less expensive and tastes sweeter, fragrant, fresh and fruity.
Cava comes from north-eastern Spain and is made from Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada grapes but may contain Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Cava is made in the traditional method (the same way that Champagne and English Sparkling Wine is made) by in-bottle fermentation. Cava has more citrus notes, mineral flavours and less fruity sweetness.
If you’re going to go to the expense of Champagne, you should make sure you drink it. That may sound obvious, but we are all guilty of storing Champagne for years waiting for a special occasion. However, it will start to lose its flavour not long after purchasing, so drink it sooner rather than later. Champagnes are made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier and are made in north eastern France (Champagne region). They generally taste of apple, citrus with yeasty tones.
How to serve sparkling wine
By all means store your sparkling wine in the fridge but take it out 10 minutes before drinking so it’s at the right temperature, which is ideally between 7 and 10 degrees. That way you’ll appreciate the flavours better. For any leftover wine (does that exist?) make sure you use a pressurised stopper which should keep the wine fresh for a couple of days.
If you’re having sparkling wine prior to your Christmas meal, you need to consider any canapes or pre-dinner snacks. Sparkling wine makes a great pairing as the bubbles can help cleanse the palate between bites of food, offering an added layer of pairing versatility. Generally, sparkling wines pair well with light snacks such as cheese, blinis and sushi. Talking of ‘pairings’, don’t forget that it is Christmas Day and we are all allowed a late afternoon nap which is ideally paired with a James Bond or Disney film in the background!
I often get asked, “What sparkling wine will you have on Christmas Day?”. I want something delicate, pale but with elegant looks. Stanlake Park’s Rosé Superior fits the bill perfectly and most people agree with my choice once tasted (Gold Medal winner 2023 – World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly Awards). It’s made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes and aged for two years after a second fermentation in the bottle.
Whichever sparkling wine for Christmas you choose, make sure you open it safely so you can enjoy the festive occasion without a trip to A&E for a cork to the eye! Merry Christmas!