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festive fi zz

N

o matter where your wine loyalties

lie it's impossible to escape the

lure of sparkling wine during

the festive season. Dry or sweet,

white, pink or red, gently or heavily

� zzy, the options are deliciously endless. So

what should you drink, and when?

PARTY BUBBLES

PROSECCO OR CRÉMANT

Remember those parties where you're

handed a  ute of something non-descript as

soon as you walk through the door? Don't be

one of those hosts. Party bubbles are about

delivering impact and  avour immediately,

because as soon as the � rst sip has been

taken people launch into conversation and

are distracted for the rest of the evening.

But with large quantities needed, party

� zz is also about a friendly price, so the

best bet is to go for Prosecco or Crémant.

Something like the popular Prosecco brand

Canti or an eye-catching bottle from Scavi

‚ Rey could be a useful conversation starter.

For a drier tipple, France's 'other' sparkling

wine, Crémant, is great, too. Both of these

deliver on  avour and are wallet-friendly by

sparkling wine standards.

COCKTAIL

MAKING

CAVA OR CHAMPAGNE

Its ability to sex up a cocktail makes

sparkling wine a popular ingredient in bars

and at parties, especially at the festive

time of the year. Whatever the cocktail,

though, it's useful to use a sparkling wine

that has a certain weight of  avour behind

it, enough so it doesn't disappear behind

other ingredients but not so much that it

would overshadow them. It should be dry,

too, because it's much easier to sweeten

a cocktail than it is to make it drier. Step

forward Cava and Champagne. Cava names

such as Codornˆu, or the smaller producer

Vilarnau, make excellent cocktail bases - and

also deliver with canapés. While the most

successful cocktail Champagnes aren't too

heavy, powerful or old, so the Brut NVs

from houses such as Nicolas Feuillatte or

Pommery, for example, would work well.

With Christmas round the corner, it's time to stock up on

bubbles to t the festive bill WORDS JANE PARKINSON PHOTO STEPHEN LENTHALL

CHRISTMAS MORNING

MOSCATO D'ASTI OR ENGLISH

SPARKLING WINE

There are two fantastic � zz options to kick

oŽ the big day. One is something softly

� zzy, lightly sweet and low in alcohol.

Piedmont's Moscato d'Asti would make a

gorgeous and gentle start to the decadent

day ahead. For something dry, perky and so

refreshing it whets your appetite, stock up

on English sparkling wine. Often made with

Champagne's three hero grapes and now

with several sophisticated English producers

to choose from, there's never been a better

time to start Christmas with a top drop from

respected producers such as Coates ‚ Seely,

Hambledon Vineyard, or Wiston Estate.

CHRISTMAS LUNCH

CHAMPAGNE

As much as your budget will allow, this is

the time to roll out the big guns, because

spending more should mean greater

complexity and a better chance of matching

well with food. A savvy option would be

to choose wine from a less familiar but

fantastic Champagne house such as Deutz

or Philipponnat, where you might get more

bang for your buck. Older Champagnes (say,

8-15 years old) or those that have spent time

in barrel - such as Krug - will have a nuttier,

waxier  avour, and pair well with richer

ingredients such as chestnuts and cheese.

NEW YEAR'S EVE

FRANCIACORTA

The magic of � zz is a no-brainer on New

Year's Eve, but with a week of festivities

behind you it's time for something re� ned

with a lighter � zz. This has Franciacorta

written all over it. Italy's equivalent of

Champagne is classy, and has a special style

called Satèn that is lower in atmospheric

pressure than many other sparkling wines,

so it's softer and more delicate but still has

great  avour. All Franciacorta Satèn wines

must be made from white grapes, and this

usually means Chardonnay. Fratelli Berlucchi

is an elegant producer, while Bellavista's

wines are renowned for their charm.

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