Get set to sparkle this summer


Nothing gets the party started like a glass of fizz. Champagne is the traditional choice for celebrations and Berrys’ United Kingdom Cuvée is one of my favourites. It’s a non-vintage style, which simply means the wines in the blend are from a number of different vintages (this provides a consistent style year on year). Other key styles of Champagne include Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay grapes rather than the standard blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), Vintage (all the wines are from one year) and Rosé (made pink either by inclusion of a small amount of red wine or by ‘bleeding’ the colour from the skins of black grapes).

There will always be plenty of Champagnes to choose from but if you look further afield there’s a myriad of alternatives, often at very reasonable price points. Explore new ways to make your party sparkle this summer with these wines:

Prosecco is Italy’s most famous sparkling wine. The Prosecco grape is distinguished by its aromatics of lemon and green apples, and its subtle flavours of white peaches, freshly picked flowers and notes of yeastiness.

Moscato d’Asti, whilst not being as well-known as its Italian sister Prosecco, it is nevertheless on the up and provides a different style to the dry Prosecco we have become accustomed to. Light and slightly sweet yet refreshing, they are delicately fragrant and a great match for summery fruit based puddings.

Cava is the Spanish sparkler. Today we’re seeing the emergence of top quality, critically acclaimed examples such as Gramona Brut Nature, a relatively new addition to our sparkling stable. Ripe stone fruit characters and hints of almonds characterise these delicious wines.

Crémant describes wines made in the Champagne method in regions outside of Champagne. Berrys’ Crémant de Limoux exhibits tropical exuberance with honeyed, biscuity notes and provides great value for money at around £10 per bottle. Lovely on its own, it’s also great if you’re making a Kir Royale.

English Sparkling Wine. 2012 is the year to buy British so support our local products by trying English sparkling wine. We may bemoan the typical British weather, but it often mirrors the cooler climate of Champagne and so the chalky soils and crisp air are capable of producing sparkling wines of outstanding quality. Try producers such as Nytimber or Ridgeview Estates to experience some English wines that are giving Champagne a run for its money.

Enjoy sparkling wine chilled at about 8-10˚C, served in elegant flutes to maintain the bubbles as long as possible and don’t think of it simply as an aperitif drink. Great with a variety of nibbles, fuller styles can match well to starters and main courses (try fish and chips with NV Champagne if you don’t believe me- the acidity cuts through the richness of the batter beautifully!). Sweeter styles can be an exquisite match for light puddings. I’d love to hear any great food and sparkling wine matches you have enjoyed!