Champagne vs sparkling wine: can you tell the difference?
A glass of bubbly can be just the thing to make a party go with a swing. But can you tell if it’s the real thing or a top notch sparkling wine that you’re sipping with your canapés?
There’s something really attractive to me about the idea of drinking Champagne. It’s certainly not an everyday item – well, not in my house anyway. It immediately conjures up an air of glamour and luxury. But if I’m honest, I’m not really convinced my palate is discerning enough to fully appreciate the complex flavours and good finish that mark out a decent Champagne.
Champagnes and sparkling wines are both made using the ‘méthode champenoise’. A second stage of fermentation takes place in the bottle and creates the carbon dioxide for the bubbles. Does it matter if this happens in the Champagne region of France, or in Italy,South Africa or even on the South Downs?
Best of the bubbly
In our recent Champagne and sparkling wines taste test, our panel of experts were slightly disappointed with this year’s selection of Champagnes. They did find that some of the sparkling wines give ‘real pleasure at a reasonable price’, however.
Our Best Buy Champagnes (Sainsbury’s Blanc de Noirs NV, £20.99, and M&S De Saint Gall Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru NV, £28) are competitively priced compared with some branded ones, but the Best Buy sparkling wines cost half as much. Pongrácz Brut from Morrisons and M&S Single Estate Chardonnay Cava 2009 are both £13.99. Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Vintage Cava Brut 2009 is just £10.49. That’s quite a saving.
So, if you’re having a bit of a do over the festive season, you could get two bottles of good sparkling wine for the price of one bottle of Champagne.
Of course I understand that the grape used, the location of the vineyard and even the weather can make a difference to wines, but if I can’t appreciate it then paying the extra won’t make sense. I’m hoping that our expert video with pointers and advice on what to look for in a good Champagne will give me more of understanding next time I’m lucky enough to have a glass.
But can you tell the difference? Will you be splashing out on Champagne for your seasonal celebrations, or do you think sparkling wine will be just as enjoyable under the Christmas tree?
What bubbly will you be drinking this festive season?
I won't be drinking bubbly (47%, 163 Votes)
Sparking wine (21%, 73 Votes)
Champagne (17%, 59 Votes)
Either of the above (15%, 51 Votes)
Total Voters: 348
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