There was once a time when sparkling wine was a treat for only the most significant of occasions – New Year’s Eve, birthdays, weddings etc. – unless of course you were a Formula 1 driver. If Champagne was a bit out of your price range then you could reach for the Cava or the Prosecco, but whichever variety of sparkling wine you chose, momentous occasions would be accompanied by much fumbling and straining followed by that loud, satisfying pop. A toast really doesn’t feel quite like a toast unless there’s an elegant long glass of something fizzy in your hands.
However, new market research this week predicted that the Britain will soon become the world’s biggest importer of champagne and sparkling wine in the next five years. People are increasingly drinking champagne and other sparkling wines as a fairly standard way to end the week or as a default request at a bar. We in the H+K Food + Drink team are certainly not immune to this trend and many have experienced the wrath of the team for not buying enough bottles of Prosecco on a Friday night. The H+K Healthcare team behind the app Apple a Day blog are equally enthusiastic about the fizzy stuff.
The variety of sparkling wines available in the UK today has also increased, and southern England is becoming world renowned for the quality of its sparkling wine (as discussed previously on the Food Bites blog). There are currently over 400 active vineyards in the UK, but it is the chalky soils of the South Downs that are attracting the most attention. Experts say that the same seam of chalk running underneath the Champagne region extends across the channel to the Downs. This gives some English sparkling wines the same characteristic qualities as some of their more famous Gallic counterparts.
So, now that sparkling wine has been turned into everyday humdrum bar-fodder, what can you do to add some fizz into your nights to really impress your friends? Well, if you’re looking for something really spectacular, you could always try to the master the art of “sabrage” – the ceremonial opening of a Champagne bottle with a specially made sword. Of course, if you have more money than sense you could always just take after the young rich socialites of this world and work your way up the list of wonderfully-named super-size champagne bottles: the Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Methuselah, Salmanazar, Balthazar or the gigantic 15 litre Nebuchadnezzar.
However, if you don’t have £30,000 to spend on a night out, but still want a glass or two of bubbly, try to savour it and remember the words of Napoleon:
“Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”