Blind taste test: 10 of the best champagnes and sparkling wines for Christmas
16:31 20 November 2015
When it comes to the festive period it’s rare to find a household sans champagne, sparkling wine or prosecco. But before you splurge out on a big batch of fizz, how do you decide which to choose?
The one with the supermarket discount? The one with the expert reviews? The one with the fancy label? I decided to take the guessing out of the equation and compared them without distractions to give you the definitive guide for champagne shopping this Christmas. It was a hard job, there’s no denying it. Thankfully, I managed to whip up a willing group of volunteers to help (all in the name of research).
San Leo Prosecco £10.49
An easy to drink prosecco with a light, fruity taste that is easily matched with a wide variety of foods.
Best for: Drinking with pastry based canapés, or matched with a salty and sweet course such as Parma ham and grilled peaches.
What our tasters said: When you’re hosting family and friends over the Christmas period it’s helpful to have a sparkling wine that appeals to a wide variety of tastes. All of the tasting panel agreed that this one ticks all the boxes.
Buy from: Waitrose
Squerryes Vintage Reserve 2011 £28.99
An English sparkling wine from a Kentish vineyard, created from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.
Best for: Pairing with a strong and crumbly mature cheddar
What our tasters said: A pleasantly dry sparkling wine that has a good balance of apple notes without an overpowering yeasty aftertaste.
Buy from: the Squerryes website
La Jara Prosecco Frizzante £9.99
Another prosecco topping the charts – this one however is semi-sparkling which means there’s no dramatic cork pop here, just a subtle apple and berry flavour.
Best for: Pairing with creamy canapés or starters, such as a 90s inspired prawn cocktail or smoked salmon and cream cheese.
What our tasters said: A very drinkable prosecco that’s light in alcohol - you could drink this all night. A light, fruity flavour means that it would go well with fish and seafood, and exceedingly well with desserts.
Buy from: Riverford Organic
Jean Philippe Moulin Vintage Champagne 2005 £39.99
If prosecco is too sweet for your palate, the dry citrus notes of this vintage champagne are bound to impress this Christmas.
Best for: Serving up with light savoury nibbles such as olives and vegetable crisps.
What our tasters said: The best champagne out of the bunch, this is an easy to drink and refreshingly crisp fizz that would be perfect paired with a pâté or terrine.
Buy from: Naked Wines
Liquid Gold Prosecco £29.99 for two
The appearance of the metallic bottle may not be to everyone’s taste, but the contents are surprising: a fresh, fruity liquor with a clean aftertaste.
Best for: Sipping on whilst sat around a wood burner chatting to friends or as a Christmas morning celebratory drink.
What our tasters said: The prosecco comes in two finishes - a traditional green glass bottle or one of six metallic finishes – we’d suggest opting for the green (unless you like a bit of bling).
Buy from: the Liquid Gold website
Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2010 £36.99
Another English sparkling wine that went down well with the judging panel, the Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs is a well rounded sparkling formed from the Chardonnay grape.
Best for: Pairing with fresh shellfish – grilled lobster with melted butter and fiery chillies would go down a treat.
What our tasters said: A fresh and crisp sparkling wine, with rich, buttery aromas. The Blanc de Blancs is pricier than the Brut Reserve, but the improvement in taste makes up for the extra cost.
Buy from: the Gusbourne website
Crémant de Limoux £11.95
Definitely a crowd pleaser, this light, zesty sparkling wine is a seriously good buy and comparable to some of the better champagnes.
Best for: Those who love champagne, but aren’t so keen on the premium price.
What our tasters said: It’s hard to tell the difference between this sparkling wine and some of the champagnes we’ve tried. The freshness of the wine makes it easy to drink too.
Buy from: Berry Bros & Rudd
Piccini 1882 Spumante £9.00
Served up as a more affordable alternative to prosecco, Spumante is a blend of glera prosecco and chardonnay grapes.
Best for: Lovers of sweet sparkling wines.
What our tasters said: This is a very sweet sparkling wine – very similar to prosecco but with a sharper, more acidic edge. That said it would go down a treat with some salty, savoury canapés before Christmas dinner.
Buy from: Sainsbury’s
Champagne Grand Cru Brut £26.95
A blend is primarily made up from Pinot Noir grapes and some more unusual underlying notes, but with all the usual characteristics of a traditional champagne.
Best for: Those looking for affordable champagnes for New Year’s Eve celebrations
What our tasters said: The tasting notes for this one are slightly unusual – but don’t let that put you off. The champagne has a sherbert-esque taste - almost like a sophisticated grown up cream soda.
Buy from: Berry Bros & Rudd
Wild Thing Prosecco £9.75
Money from sales of this prosecco help to fund the Born Free Foundation and benefit wildlife conservation and animal welfare projects. Drink up without the guilt!
Best for: Those who like to make any excuse for opening another bottle.
What our tasters said: A gently bubbling prosecco with a mildly fruity and citrusy flavour. The best thing is that it’s served up in a very convenient and reusable flip top bottle, which means you don’t have to drink it all at once – though we know you will.
Buy from: Vintage Roots