Champagne alternatives

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The sound of corks popping always heralds the advent of the festivals and celebrations– but it doesn’t have to be Champagne every time. Susie Barrie MW finds there’s great style, flavour and value to be had in Cava, Prosecco, Crémant and New World sparkling wines.

Italian quality

Top of the list is the sparkling wine of the moment, Prosecco – a typically light-bodied, off-dry Italian fizz with a delicate, frothy mousse and attractive peach-blossom aromas. The best Prosecco has historically come from the hillside vineyards of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene zone and new rules were announced in 2009 to see the promotion of these wines to DOCG status, the highest classification in Italy.

Spanish style

What Prosecco is not and never will be, is anything like Champagne. Cava, however, another sparkling favourite, can be much closer in style as they use a similar method of production. A typical glass of Cava will have softer acidity than Champagne and the flavours will be of green apple, honey and dried herbs. Given that most ‘expensive’ Cava is usually around £10, it is clearly an interesting budget option. But you’ll need to spend upwards of £7 to get something that is truly worth drinking.

French flair

Crémant is a lesser-known style that shouldn’t be overlooked when considering inexpensive Champagne alternatives. This traditional-method fizz is made all over France from grapes local to the various regions and although styles vary, these wines tend to show a little more rusticity than Champagne.

New World Diversity

Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and, more recently, Chile are all home to companies producing clean, fruity wines with plenty of crisp fizz and the kind of attractive packaging that makes them look more pricey than they actually are. At £5 to £7, many of these are very acceptable, inexpensive wines that are well suited to drinking without food and are ideal for easy-going festive parties.

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