Fine Fizz fit for Festive Fun

15th December 2017


Over the last year or so I have done a lot of travelling and visiting many of the top sparkling wine regions of the world from exploring the family producers of Georgia to guided tours of the fabulous sparkling wines produced here on home soil. What sticks in my mind when it comes to sparkling wines is that there are many different experiences to be had from sweet to dry, sparkling reds to golden coloured vintages, Prosecco to Champagne, expensive to the very budget!

So, for Christmas, what sparkling wines have I come across that I think deserve to be served on what is for many a full day of celebrations and giving as well as the gatherings of friends and family to entertain.

Breakfast / Morning: Well, breakfast time it may be, but for many it will not mean a lazy Sunday lie in whilst reading the Sunday newspaper – It will be a busy and frantic time of early morning rising for all the Christmas present opening! Yes, put the kettle on if you can and have that first cup of tea / coffee, but you’ll be busy putting together toys, putting batteries in gadgets, connecting items to the household wifi, clearing up all the wrapping paper and then it is on in to the kitchen to start the long task of Christmas dinner preparations! Phew you say and hopefully will not disagree with me that an early glass of fizz will be needed even if we are still in AM time!

Now for the busy morning time I suggest rewarding yourself with an easy to drink glass of Prosecco, but not just any old glass, we are going for a bottle of Superiore DOCG which will give you a much more fruitier and creamier taste sensation over standard Prosecco. A place that I always look forward to a visit is Villa-Sandi in the region of Prosecco and one of the gold winning wines DOCG Superiore Millesimato Brut 2016. Here you will have a refreshing glass of bubbly that not only holds an explosion of rich pear and apple flavours, but also give you a smooth and creamy tasting sensation – Nothing too heavy nor powerful, just fruit and floral flavours and a great pick me up to head on to the next stage of the day…

Pre-Dinner Canapies / Drinks: It is now that you can take a quick break as everything is roasting away in the oven and the table is laid, that glass (or two) of Prosecco really hit the mark, but now you want a little change in style and flavour and something to pair well with some easy to pick up food and canapies you have prepared. It is all too soon for anything too heavy or vintage such as Champagne, but nonetheless, you want a new bottle to pop open.

Now here I am going for a Crémant and one from the region of the Beaujolais from a winery that I visited earlier in the year. It is an easy to drink, nothing too heavy or explosive in flavours, yet it is refreshing and crisp and ideal as an aperitif to any small nibbles. The Oedoria Crémant de Bourgogne Diamant offers a great finesse with a slight acidity and citrus taste that will refresh the palate from any rich and flavoured foods.

On to the Dinner Table now for Starters: Now much will depend on which type of starters you will be having if indeed there is any on the menu! Though for those who will opt for a pre-Christmas dinner starter then I would suggest a lighter and more clean and crisp sparkling wine with lights notes of fruits and a touch of acidity in length which will fit the Llopart Cava – Brut Reserva. This is an easy to enjoy yet great flavours sparkling wine that would suit most foods to include white meat / fish, pastry and sweet starters.

Christmas Dinner: Now for most, it will be roast turkey and vegetables or of course the nut roast is also popular. What we want here is a grand wine to accompany this filling meal that we will be enjoying – A wine that befits the table for Christmas dinner and also expresses good deep characters. It simply has to be a Champagne and a vintage one, of course, something with a few years of ageing and good complex flavours to compete with the mixed flavours from dinner.

I have opted for the Champagne Roger Brun – La Pelle 2012 which really will compete well with the rich foods such a roasted white meats, game, pork and fish. It has a great body and depth of flavours and aromas with typical brioche and yellow stone fruit character with hints of spices, mushroom and acidity. Certainly, give this bottle a moment or two in the glass and certainly open the bottle a good half hour or so before serving, I might even suggest a decanter.

Desserts: I’m sure we will all be taking a breather after dinner so certainly a good time to enjoy another glass of the Roger Brun La Pelle, but we will soon be turning our attention to dessert and that Christmas pudding will be on many peoples menu. No matter what option of dessert there is to be served, from fresh berry fruits to fine cheese, I think a good all round sparkling wine from another winery that I have visited is the Cuvée Rosé 2014 vintage from Bolney Estate. Here is an English fizz that gives great personality in its fine aromas and fresh berry fruit flavours and one that will match with varied dessert dishes.

Early evening treat: Christmas dinner is over and the table has been cleared along with the mammoth job of cleaning the kitchen and putting away everything is done. The late afternoon snoozing has been done and no doubt the Home Alone and a James Bond movie have been watched and another glass of bubbly is a thought that comes to your mind. So what about something a little bit different and to liven up the palate? Maybe you wish to bring out some chocolates for your guests to enjoy with their glass of another fizzy wine? For this time of the day and occasion, I would suggest the Loredan Gasparini and their Asolo Prosecco Superiore Docg Brut.

Asolo is a wonderful location of Italy and an important piece of the jigsaw of Prosecco. This region gives such high quality tasting Prosecco and some amazing flavours and for me, Loredan Gasparini is one of its finest producers. I am a great fan of their wines with each being so very delicate, such fines bubbles and great golden colours – A real masterpiece in each mouthful of the quality that Prosecco can produce.

Their Asolo DOCG Brut is more on the sweeter side in my mind so just ideal for that early evening tipple. This wine is smooth and full of fruity / citrus / brioche flavours yet not in any way overpowering and even if enjoyed with some fine luxury dark chocolate would pair along very nicely.

Evening drinks and a wild card: It is now the relaxing evening time atmosphere that warms the house and I imagine that some people may be fortunate enough to be enjoying sitting in front of an open fire or sat in that cosy sofa and wanting that final drink before we retire to bed. Now I imagine something a little bit like a ‘Winter Warmer’ so I envisaged a red sparkling wine that would really close the day off well.

I have tried many sparkling red wines and some can be that bit too heavy and a half glass is too much kind of experience for then being too heavy and over powering. Now I did recently get to taste some wines from Slovenia and one which stood out for me, and in deed during our awards this year by grabbing a trophy, was the Vinakoper – Capris Refošk. This wine is so very enjoyable and a great example of a red sparkling wine that is full of red berry and plum flavours – It is a wine that as soon as I tasted it I saw myself sat in front of a glowing open fire on a cold winters evening (it won a trophy for Fruity & Floral). Certainly a close of evening glass of sparkling wine.

Wild Card? Well, I would like to throw on into the mix if I may and introduce some mulled wine to the days agenda – This will be the Finndeli – GLOET which is a mulled sparkling wine which is very much in aromas and taste to that of mulled wine. It is not as deep in flavours nor heavy, but more a crisp and refreshing alternative with all the fruity and spicy flavours you’d expect from a standard bottle of mulled wine… It is certainly one to try!

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.