Add some sparkle
We’re way past peak Prosecco. Happily, there are other options
In the run- up to Christmas, many of us like a glass or two of something sparkling. Some of the time it is swallowed without too much thought, unless it is truly awful or something really special that kick- starts our taste buds. However, I firmly believe it is worth taking a little time to buy something decent – your family and friends will thank you for it.
The two national favourites are Prosecco and Champagne. I rarely refuse a glass of good Champagne, although it can be very expensive. As far as I am concerned, we reached peak Prosecco some time ago, so I am delighted to see the range of sparkling wines in our shops expand to include some really interesting, reasonably priced wines. This week a few more offbeat choices from the Loire Valley, Portugal and even the Czech Republic, as well as an inexpensive Champagne that will certainly get any party going.
I wrote about pét- nats earlier this year. These are naturally sparkling wines, lightly fizzy and sometimes quite funky too. Some are a little cloudy – the leftovers from the fermentation. A glass before dinner can be very refreshing and a whole lot more interesting than a Prosecco. The Portuguese PT Nat Pinot Noir below is a milder version, with plenty of fruit and a light sparkle.
Wines labelled Brut Nature, including two of the bottles featured below, will have virtually no residual sugar and if you are used to drinking sweetish Prosecco, they may come as something of a shock to your system. However, both are well worth trying.
If you do want to serve Champagne, it usually makes sense to pay more than ¤ 30, as inexpensive Champagne rarely offers good value for money. There are, however, a few exceptions, such the Monsigny to the right or the very tasty Granzamy Brut Champagne (¤ 29.95, O’Briens). For more adventurous palates, O’Briens also has the very tasty Australian Croser Brut Rosé (¤ 24.95). Dunnes Stores has the excellent grown- up, refined bone- dry Champagne Lombard Brut Nature Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs (¤ 45). Terroirs in Donnybrook, Dublin 4, has a great selection of grower or domaine- bottled Champagnes. My favourites include the Agrapart 7 Crus (¤ 69.50) and the Pierre Péters Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut (¤ 59.50). I always enjoy a glass of the excellent Bénard- Pitois 1er cru Champagne ( Whelehan’s, ¤ 36.95). One of the finest grower Champagnes I have tasted is Leclerc Briant (¤ 59, siyps. com, Green Man) and of the bigger names in Champagne, Bollinger, Louis Roederer, and Charles Heidsieck are all on top form. Expect to pay ¤ 55-¤ 65. Two last pieces of advice. Don’t serve your sparkling wine too cold; half an hour in an ice bucket will kill all flavour. And do serve plenty of nibbles – all wine, including sparkling tastes better with food.