How to get the best Christmas fizz for less

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If you’re looking for interesting bubbly this Christmas that scores on taste but saves on big brand mark-ups, here are some tips from Manchester’s Cracking Wine.

To stock up on great champagne, sparking wine from the UK or the rest of the world, a unique place to start is the People’s Choice Award winners from this year’s Fizz Festival in Altrincham, Manchester, held in November.

These are the wines that took the top slots, with links to suppliers if you wish to get your hands on a bottle.

Best Champagne: Champagne Thienot NV Brut
Best Sparkling Wine UK: Hush Heath Balfour Rose 2012
Best Sparkling Wine Rest of World: Narrative Ancient Method Chardonnay 2013, presented by trailblazers Red Squirrel

award-winners
Winners of the People’s Choice Awards at Altrincham Fizz Festival

But most of us buy our wine from supermarkets instead of specialists. Cracking Wine owner Janet Harrison has these tips when you’re shopping this Christmas:

“If you want Champagne taste on a budget, opt for Crémant. The main differences between the two are that Crémant can’t use the Champagne name (as it is not made in the region), and normally, it is aged for slightly less time. But the fizz in your glass can be remarkably similar.

“If you love English sparkling wine, some of the award-winning vineyards in the UK can be found under supermarket own brands. Check the label on the back to see where it was made.

While Prosecco is a popular alternative to Champagne, you won’t get the biscuity aroma and taste of Champagne. However, Prosecco is meant to be fresh and fruity so that is the point I suppose!  Prosecco fermentation happens in a tank (the Charmat method) and often has higher residual sugar. Champagne, Crémant and – surprisingly – Cava is fermented in the bottle (known as the ‘traditional’ or Champagne method).”

Janet’s ‘wine insider’ supermarket picks for this Christmas are:
Tesco Premium Cru “Amazing quality” for £18.
Co-op’s Cava “Really fabulous” at £5.99
Aldi’s Cremant de Jura has won loads of awards – six bottles for £45
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco DOCG 2015, £10. “I choose this more than others for my tastings. They’ve got a 25% off for six bottles which makes it really good value.”

If you’d rather be tasting wine that reading about it, sign up to Janet’s Women Who Drink Wine meet-ups. The next one is in Altrincham on 30 November. And you can fnd out more about the wines and suppliers at this year’s Altrincham Fizz Festival here.

Top picture courtesy Flick Flick

2nd picture courtesy Cracking Wines. From L-R: Zoe Dearsley from Hush Heath, Nik Darlington from Red Squirrel and Andrew Nicholl representing Champagne Thienot.

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