The article itself said nothing new but it remind me that the problem with Champagne (and we drink large amounts of it in the UK) was that the really good stuff is financially out of reach other than for the lucky few.
Having said that, people are prepared to spend “for the big occasion” more on Champagne than any other wine without knowing much about it.
The big Champagne houses dominate the shelf space and people’s preferences will be guided by advertising as much as anything else, the Moets, Veuve Clicqout, Bollinger etc will be thrusting themselves from all vantage points at this time of the year, and people will swear by their preferred brand having in most cases never having tried anything else.
Nonetheless even the major houses’ standard offerings are not cheap and the English sparkling wine equivalents are in the same bracket, so none of these make sense if they are only being offered to all and sundry when most have had far too much alcohol already.
This year has seen a remarkable rise in the sales of Prosecco, for the first time outselling Champagne in this country, it comes in two types ‘frizzante’ the cheaper version where the bubbles stop soon after pouring and the slightly more expensive ‘spumante’ where it has gone through a secondary fermentation, this is the Champagne look alike.
Some years ago Prosecco was inclined to be sweet and a bit sickly (or at least those on sale here) but that has changed and there are some out there that will give Champagne more than a run for its money at the lower end of the price range and of course they cost a lot less, several have won meaningful awards this year so look out for the gold and silver winning varieties.
The other alternative is Spanish ‘cava’ mostly from the big producers like Freixenet. They also can be a money saving alternative and the same rules apply as to quality – look for award winners, this does seem to be a good guide to quality as cava and prosecco can at the bottom end be disappointing, to put it bluntly but that only applies to a few.
Only five or six years ago we looked as though we would be knee deep in Australian and NZ fizz. Much of it was at the same price as Prosecco and of a very high quality, but for some reason much has disappeared from the shelves so the choice is a bit limited, so if you want to lift a glass of half decent “bubbly” this Christmas and don’t wish to mortgage the house, Prosecco could be the answer.