A festive celebration isn't quite complete without some bubbly.
Here are 7 champagnes, cava, and prosecco ─ from $46 to $90 ─ to buy for your Christmas party.
First things first. Although it's common to hear people loosely use the term "champagne" to refer to all things bubbly, champagne is actually narrowly defined as sparkling wine made from the Champagne region in France, and specifically through the "methode champenoise" process.
Because of the strict regulation and labour-intensive production method, champagne is generally a tad pricier than its sparkling wine counterparts from elsewhere.
But if it's just a delicious bottle of bubbly you want, it's worth broadening your scope to consider other types of sparkling wine.
Prosecco refers to sparkling wine made in the Veneto region of Italy. Because prosecco tends to be a little fruity with delicate bubbles, it's very easy drinking just on its own. Otherwise, pair it with foods that are lighter in flavour ─ such as oysters, rock melon wrapped in prosciutto ─ so as not to overpower the prosecco.
Cava can almost be considered as Spain's answer to champagne, sharing very similar production methods. Both champagne and cava have very fine, persistent (long-lasting) bubbles, allowing them to hold their ground well against strong flavours. Their high acidity will also lend a refreshing counterbalance to fried food!
THE SWEETNESS SPECTRUM OF SPARKLING WINES
Sparkling wines in old world regions like France, Italy and Spain will usually indicate the level of sweetness through this classification system.
The mish-mash of French and English terms can be puzzling, so it's best to keep this list handy for your shopping trips.
It's arranged from completely dry to sweet.
Brut Nature and Extra Brut are pretty much considered bone-dry, whereas Brut and Extra Dry carry slight sweetness and are usually a good middle spot if you want something versatile.
The bottom two are best reserved as dessert.
- Brut and Extra Dry styles
- Brut Nature [Bone-dry, completely no sugar added]
- Extra Brut
- Extra Dry
- Doux [The sweetest end with 50 or more grams of residual sugar per litre]
Col Vetoraz Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry Prosecco 2015
$46, from Singapore Straits Wine Company
Fruity on the palate, with hints of green apple, strawberries, and peach. A lingering soft sweetness.
Have it: On its own. Or with oysters, prosciutto. It's also good for non-chocolatey desserts like fruit cakes, or even gula melaka-flavoured log cakes!
Raventos L'Hereu Cava
$58, from Singapore Straits Wine Company
Minerally on the nose, and a little astringent on the palate. Very toasty flavours of almonds and hazelnuts. Finish is citrusy, with a grapefruit-like tinge of bitterness.
Have it: With chilled seafood, or creamy cheeses like brie, camembert and goat cheese. Also pairs well with rilettes, spicy flavours and greasy foods.
Champagne Philippe Gamet Brut Selection Blanc De Noirs
$68, from Singapore Straits Wine Company
Incredibly nutty aroma, with traces of peppery notes. Very juicy, and slightly more acidity than the cava.
Have it: With oysters, crayfish, lobsters. Works well with rilettes too. Also great for spicy dishes and fried food.
Champagne Drappier, Nv, Brut Nature Sans Souffre
$90, from Singapore Straits Wine Company
Also quite toasty, but with a lingering chocolatey edge. Slight umami character but juicy, and very lush in the mouth.
Have it: With hard cheeses, poultry, char siew, and rich curries.
Woodstock Ruby Velvet Dolcetto Lagrein Sparkling 2016
$53, from Singapore Straits Wine Company
Sweet, ripe flavours of stonefruits like plum and nectarine. Slightly chocolatey. Super fizzy at the start, but the bubbles fade quite quickly. Silky finish.
Have it: With spicy but not coconut-based foods, like chorizo. Also good with sweet, fatty flavours like bak kwa or foie gras terrine. For dessert, best paired with rich, chocolate-based ones.
Pommery Brut Royal NV
$89, from Swiss Butchery
Very crisp and lively. Full in the mouth with a whiff of fruitiness in the finish.
Have it: With oysters, traditional turkey, ham, semi-hard cheeses.
Pitars Porsecco Millesimato Gold
$40.80, from Swiss Butchery
Opens with a sumptuous fruity, ambrosial aroma and ends with crisp, dry finish.
Have it: As an aperitif. Or with rich seafoods like salmon and uni. Also pairs well with with desserts that have a fruity accent, like panettone, fruit cake, and yuzu-based cakes.
Singapore Straits Wine Company, 10 outlets including #01-11 UE Square. Tel: 1800-8888-333, straitswine.com. Call to check on stock availability at your preferred outlet before heading down.
Swiss Butchery, 3 outlets, including 56 Tanglin Road, tel: 6235-8080, swissbutchery.com.sg.
TIPS FOR DRINKING CHAMPAGNE
Always keep sparkling wines chilled in the fridge, and at least for three hours before serving. Uncork only when you're ready to serve.
Pour a little of the bubbles into the glasses, swirl, and discard to "rinse" out any lingering traces of detergent.
If you reckon you might not be able to finish the bottle, cork it back immediately after pouring and keep it in the fridge. The bubbles should last for one or two days more.
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