Here’s how to pick a sparkling wine to suit any budget.
No other drink makes an occasion feel quite so celebratory as champagne does. Whether you’re hosting a casual barbecue, dinner party or extra special event like a wedding, sparkling wine is a must-have. To raise a glass in honour of International Champagne Day on October 28, here is everything you need to know about the bubbly beverage, so you can pick a delicious drop without breaking the budget.
For a sparkling wine to be certified and labelled as champagne, it must be made in the Champagne region in France and created according to traditional techniques. These standards are what have made Moët & Chandon Brut NV become a famous champagne that’s synonymous with status. Only the best grapes are chosen through harvesting by hand. These are fermented twice – firstly in vats or barrels, then in the bottle to contain the carbon dioxide that gives the effervescent effect.
While French champagne can cost a little more when it comes to bubbly, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the good stuff. An award-winning good, cheap champagne is Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV, which is especially delicious served with a seafood platter. Another popular champagne is Mumm Cordon Rouge NV, ideal for toasting on a special occasion or to give as an impressive gift to someone – or yourself!
The standard of bubbles made in Australia is very high. The best are informed by traditional champagne-making methods while being influenced by local climates and flavours. They’re often fruitier and have more pronounced notes compared to their delicate French counterparts. Another difference is that they tend to be more affordable, having been produced close to home.
The elegant Arras Brut Elite Sparkling NV is traditionally made in Tasmania and is a delicious alternative to a French import, with light notes of lychee. After a budget buy? Look no further than Coldstream Hills The Hills Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV, which packs a zingy punch and is affordable enough to be a great mixer in cocktails that require sparkling
If a sparkling wine is labelled ‘vintage’, it means it was made using grapes harvested from a single year. This is usually due to a particularly plentiful and pleasant-tasting crop that season. This is the case for world-class sparkling wine Arras Blanc de Blancs Vintage, a 2007 vintage produced with high-quality grapes from Tasmania.
Alternatively, ‘non-vintage’ wines are made by blending grapes from a variety of seasons. This does not mean they’re inferior – they go through a stringent process to perfect the balance of fruits, making them refined in their own way. The proof is in Brown Brothers Brut Reserve NV, featuring delicious creamy brioche characters using a variety of hand-picked grapes from King Valley in Victoria.
To get the best out of your nice champagne, chill the bottle in the fridge for a few hours. For the perfect glassware to serve your sparkling in, it really comes down to a matter of personal preference. While flutes are the traditional way, you can also use tulip-shaped glasses and even white wine glasses. Regardless of what glass you have to hand, the idea is to contain the bubbles while still having room to get the full aroma.
For $25 or less
Zilzie Prosecco gives you all the joy of sparkling with an Italian flare that’s produced right here in Australia’s Murray Darling. It’s perfect with a Middle Eastern style grazing board.
Devil’s Corner Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV has ultra fresh apple and citrus notes and delivers impressive depth for a wine of this price.
For $50 or less
Georg Jensen Hallmark Cuvée NV has a nuttiness to it and pairs excellently with cured meats.
Also try… Jansz Vintage Methode Champenoise.
For $100 or less
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV is one of the top champagne brands and a popular choice for celebrations, and toasting friends and loved ones.
Canard-Duchêne Brut NV Champagne is an authentic French drop with delicate bubbles that would truly elevate a seafood platter.
Canard-Duchêne Brut Rosé NV will liven up a summery soiree with its strawberry aroma and slightly pink hue.
Nicolas Feuillatte Reserve Exclusive Brut brings a fresh, fruity kick to a meal of fish or chicken.
Champagne Deutz NV Brut Classic has a rich flavour and history – it comes from a champagne house founded in 1838.