When it’s time to toast the New Year, champagne is the customary drink.
An indulgent glass of bubbles reserved for a special occasion; champagne is produced in north eastern France in the Champagne region using the méthode champenoise. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier are the grapes used to make champagne, and there’s no shortage of distinguished champagne houses wowing us with their effervescent nectar.
But the question is: does it have to be champagne? As festive fizz goes, it’s certainly the most prestigious, not to mention expensive, choice. So, surely there must be other wine regions in the world that produce sparkling wines that are just as enjoyable, perhaps even a little cheaper?
Here at Price Kitchens, we’ve been researching some credible alternatives:
1. French Crémant
If you love champagne but not the price tag, choose crémant. It’s French sparkling wine made with the méthode champenoise, but with different grapes and in one of 8 Crémant regions in France. This wine still follows the appellation rules that permit the use of local grape varieties, with lower minimum ageing thresholds. The result is a lighter sparkling drinking wine that is a worthy challenger.
2. Italian Prosecco
Prosecco is a light, dry sparkling wine from Italy’s Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions, and it’s been taking the world by storm in recent years. As a budget-friendly alternative to champagne, with a similarly fresh aftertaste, Prosecco isn’t fermented in the bottle. Other, sweeter Italian fizzes include Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, both from Piedmont using Moscato Bianco grapes.
3. Spanish Cava
Predominantly made from native Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes in Catalonia, Spanish Cava makes an excellent alternative to French champagne, and its popularity has been steadily trending. Just like its French counterpart, Cava has different levels of sweetness. Importantly, this Spanish sparkling wine offers unbeatable value for money.
4. German Sekt
The classic style of Deutscher Sekt (German sparkling wine) is made exclusively from native grapes including Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Germany has 13 quality wine regions producing premium wines that undergo a second fermentation in tanks of in the bottle. Sekt may be a touch sweeter and lower in alcohol than typical champagne, but give it a go and you might be surprised at how refreshingly pleasant and affordable this choice of bubbly can be.
5. English Sparkling Wine
England is increasingly being recognised as a premium wine growing region, and many English sparkling wines are now world-class in quality, even beating champagne in some competitions. The South East, notably Kent and Sussex, have the best climate for viticulture, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Bacchus and Ortega grape varieties. If you are after the magic of champagne but on home grown terms, look no further.
So, there you have it. Stock your fridge or wine cooler with a delicious selection of non-champagne bubbly and you’re ready to see 2020 in with a bang.
A Happy New Year from all the team at Price Kitchens!