Chances are, you’ve enjoyed a glass of bubbly or two in recent weeks. It is the season to sparkle after all.
But what bubbles have you been guzzling? Are you a Prosecco drinker, a Champagne sipper or does a different glass of fizz take your fancy. The answer may depend on who’s paying!
For those with a tighter budget here’s a new kid on the bubbly block this year – a subtle little number called Pignoletto. The Italian fizz made a quiet entry on to the shelves of Sainsbury and Tesco last Christmas, and its ‘popped’ up in a lot more places 12 months on. Waitrose has currently sold out (bur promises to restock before Christmas!), while Sainsbury’s is reporting good sales of its own Pignoletto Doc Spumante Brut, £7.
Champagne purists may turn up their noses, but a bit of competition has to be good for everyone. Bubbles were once the preserve of the super-rich or super-frivolous, but now anyone can pop a cork thanks to price tags to match every occasion. With the Prosecco market was worth £330 million – up 72% – last year, Brits can’t get enough of bubbles.
Rumours that we’re drinking Prosecco stocks dry have been circling (without any obvious sign of coming true), but which sparkling wine would take its place? Could it be that cheeky Pignoletto, classic Spanish Cava, or will another sneak in from the wings, such as France’s Cremant de Loire which has garnered a few inches in wine columns in recent weeks? Even Eighties favourite, Lambrusco, is making a comeback, although forget the sickening, sweet fizz of yesteryear. This time we’re getting the proper stuff the Italian’s drink – a dry, sparkling, red!
The other sparkling wine that many are expecting great things from is the offering from English vineyards. With nearly 500 wineries in the UK, including almost 40 opening in 2015 alone, our little island is fairly fizzing with cork-popping potential. Those in the know agree that English sparkling wine holds great promise and it’s starting to be reflected in sales with one in 50 Waitrose customers last Christmas choosing English fizz over other bubbles. The Black Dog Hill vineyard is offering a tempting 2011 vintage – a favourite here from the Product of the Year family!
What we love best, of course, is a bit of clever thinking when it comes to serving up bubbly, and often that comes down to how it’s delivered. It’s refreshing to see mini bottles for one flying off the shelves, as well as limited-edition bubbly still finding a following. Magnums also seem to be making their mark this Christmas, with many of the supermarkets pushing their bigger bottle ranges. Morrisons Menestrello Prosecco magnum is one of many with the perfect party price tag of £14 until the New Year.
The supermarket price war on Champagne in recent years may have done little to drive up quality, but it has put sparkling wine centre stage. Britain wants bubbles and with sparkling wine sales rising 20% year on year, we haven’t reached the bottom of the bottle just yet.
Whatever your tipple this Christmas, enjoy. Cheers!