There’s nothing better to get the party started than a glass of fizz. But which to choose? And once the cork has popped, how easy is it to tell the difference?
Champagne is still considered the bottle to pick if you’re out to make an impression. Made by a traditional ‘Methode Champenoise’ process from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, it’s only produced in a small, defined region of France. No matter how good it is, bubbly from anywhere else can’t be called champagne – a stipulation designed to protect the world-famous likes of Krug, Pol Roger and Dom Perignon!
Prosecco is lighter, softer and sometimes slightly sweeter than champagne. It originates from the village of Prosecco in north-east Italy, and is made principally with Glera grapes. Whereas champagne has a citrus, toasty taste, the stand-out flavours of prosecco are fruity and flowery. The other main difference is how it’s produced: champagne has its secondary fermentation in the bottle whereas prosecco is processed in stainless steel tanks. The latter system operates on a larger scale, which is why most prosecco is cheaper to buy – and arguably a little more standardised – than champagne.
Cava is Spain’s greatest fizz. Wine experts consider it the most champagne-like of all the sparkling wines outside France. It’s also like champagne in being bottle fermented, and uses a blend of native grapes Macabeu, Parellada and Xarello to produce white or rose styles. Cava can range from very dry (‘brut nature’) to very sweet (‘dulce’), making it distinctive and very adaptable. Many Spanish people drink it with desserts or cakes.
Other types of sparking wine are made all over the world, but none have made such a recent impact as those produced in England. From Camel Valley in Cornwall to Nyetimber in West Sussex, England’s bubbly is winning awards for its fine, delicate taste and aroma based on the classic champagne grapes. Serving English is now more than just a patriotic gesture – it’s a mark of true distinction!