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Tips from the Wine Tipster on


You really can’t beat clinking glasses with loved ones at Christmas. The sound seamlessly mixes with smiles, a hubbub of conversation and the general feel-good factor of being together. Neil Phillips ‘The Wine Tipster’, and Jockey Club Catering’s resident wine expert, is hugely passionate about bubbles and is here to recommend some of the best to try out this festive season.




While peoples’ love of bubbles is a year-round pleasure, fizz particularly comes into its own at this time of year. Given the fantastic variety of styles and range of prices, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a great sparkling wine for every occasion.



Champagne is always appreciated as a gift and ideal for everything from celebratory toasts, to pairing with festive foods. While Champagne is sparkling wine, it can only be classed as Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne in France. Champagne is made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, and the ‘fizz’ must be created using a longstanding ‘traditional’ secondary bottle fermentation method.


A top choice is Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial NV, Champagne. This lovely, balanced, soft, refreshing and approachable style of Brut Impérial is a perfect match for festive staples like salmon blinis, prawns, brie and young goat cheeses. You can find it in Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco (£38.00 - £44.50).



Cava sparkling wines are produced in Spain, most commonly in the Penedes area in Catalonia. They’re typically crafted using a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes and the ‘fizz’ is created using the same traditional method as Champagne.


Available in Majestic (£13.99, or £8.99 for a mixed case of six), Vilarnau ‘Gaudi’ Organic Cava Brut Reserva, Penedès, Spain is a great-quality aperitif fizz that’s delicious with salty snacks like mixed nuts. Ideal for toasting with friends, it offers lovely bright notes of citrus and fresh brioche, with an attractive and elegant creaminess on the palate.



Crémant is French sparkling wine made outside of Champagne, but in one of only eight regions. It’s produced using the same traditional techniques as Champagne, but from grapes prized in each of these distinct areas.


A top choice is Crémant du Jura, Jura, France. Available in Aldi (£8.99), this vintage chardonnay is a winner offering aromas of ripe pear, alongside floral notes. These are complemented by a lovely crisp and zingy character, and well-balanced fizz – making it superb as an apéritif, as well as with a wide range of appetisers, snacks, and light seafood starters like prawns.



Prosecco comes from Italy and is predominantly produced using the Glera grape. Unlike Champagne, Cava and Crémant where the ‘fizz’ is created in the bottle (the ‘traditional’ method), the bubbles are instead created in large pressure chambers known as ‘autoclaves’ during second fermentation (known as the ‘Martinotti’ method in the Prosecco area and Charmat method internationally). I particularly love Prosecco DOC sparkling wines, which are produced in northeast Italy in just nine distinct provinces within the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions.


Bottega Pink Gold Prosecco DOC Rosé Millesimato 2021, Veneto, Italy is one stunning example. Made from Glera and Pinot Noir grapes, this Prosecco DOC rosé exudes class and elegance inside and outside. Its pink metal-coated bottle makes for a stunning gift, and guests will enjoy its wonderful floral notes intermixed with hints of peach and pear. Enjoy as an aperitif, or with an indulgent smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast. Available from Ocado, Le Bon Vin and Harvey Nichols in a gift box at £26 - £39.



Outside of these recognised styles of sparkling wines, there’s even more to discover.


How about festive fizz with a difference to surprise guests and make for a lively talking point? Sparkling red wines are a true gem and there’s no better starting point than Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Shiraz, South Australia. Available in Waitrose (£11), it’s rich and refreshing as an aperitif and intriguingly fabulous with turkey and vegetables.


Another fabulous must-try wine is Graham Beck Brut Non-Vintage, Western Cape, South Africa. Winner of The Sustainability Trophy at the Glass of Bubbly Awards, this top wine is made using the ‘Cap Classique’ method (the South African name for the ‘traditional’ Champagne method) using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. It’s fresh, but creamy and full of limey citrussy flavours alongside a brioche richness. Available in Majestic (£16.99, or £11.99 for a mixed case of six), this wine is fantastic on its own, or with festive cheesy nibbles.


If you’re keen on English sparkling wine, Nyetimber’s 1086 Prestige Cuvées are benchmark examples. Crafted by award-winning winemaker Cherie Spriggs, they’re produced in very limited quantities using grapes exclusively from West Sussex. Characterised by their superb balance, acidity, length and texture, both of these wines are delicious on their own, but also with food. Nyetimber 1086 Prestige Cuvée 2010 pairs nicely with seafood starters, while Nyetimber 1086 Rosé Prestige Cuvée 2010 is great with salmon, crab, and duck. These wines are available from Nyetimber and Majestic (£135 - £150 and £145 - £175 respectively).









No festive get-together is complete without a fabulous alcohol-free option and so wow your guests with Wild Idol Alcohol Free Sparkling Rosé, Rhinehessen, Germany.


Ideal as an aperitif, this premium alcohol-free sparkling drink is hand crafted using natural wine-making techniques and a superior blend of grapes (Regent and Müller-Thurgau). Available from Harrods and Daylesford (£29.75 - £35), this elegant fruity and floral rosé offers gorgeous aromatics and the purest flavour.



I hope you enjoy exploring some of these wines, while wowing your party guests with your new-found knowledge; here’s to a very Merry Christmas, and a sparkling New Year!


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