When it comes to wine for summer, sparkling wines have got to be a winner. Drunk cold they are refreshing, fun and bring that air of celebration to any occasion! And while it may be easy just to dash to the shops and pick up a bottle of Prosecco we are lucky enough now to have more choice for sparkling wines than ever before! So we’ve got a bit of information to differentiate the styles and a few tips and ideas in case you want to go for something a bit different.

First off, lets have a little look at exactly what makes a wine sparkling. For most bottles of bubbly this means a second fermentation inside a sealed container. Fermentation is the process where yeast eat sugar to create alcohol, with carbon dioxide being a by product. For still wines this is left to dissipate into the atmosphere. But for sparkling wines it is this precious CO2 that’s going to give us the bubbles in our wine. So what happens is we take a still wine, put it in a bottle or tank, add more yeast and sugar to kick start the second fermentation and the CO2 which is now trapped dissolves into the wine to make it fizzy. Just like that! The wines that use this method includes most of the bubbly wines your familiar with – Prosecco, Champagne, Cava, English Sparklings etc.

What differs in each of these wines are the grape varieties, use of tank or bottle in the second fermentation, add duration of aging. Prosecco is made from Glera in a tank and is generally unaged, which gives a delicate fresh and fruity style. Champagne, Cava and English Sparklings use different varieties, of which Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are very common, use a bottle for the second fermentation, and then age the wines before release. Aging for sparkling wine means leaving the yeast cells in the bottle after they have finished the second fermentation. When there is no sugar left the yeast cells die and start to break down in the wine creating flavours of biscuit and brioche. So generally these wines are richer, fuller bodied and have more complex tastes.

Prosecco is still very much what is dominating the sparkling wine at the moment, but we are seeing more premium options available which generally have more freshness and complexity. These wines are identifiable by the terms ‘Conegliano Valdobbiadene’ (the two best quality parts of the region) or more simply the initials DOCG. If you want an alternative to Prosecco, Pignoletto is another sparkling wine from Italy made in the same method but typically in a drier more aromatic style. Unlikely to replace Prosecco as the current king of sparkling wines but certainly worth a try!

As for bottle fermented wines, Champagne is of course always an option, but have you tried many English Sparkling wines? Often made from the same grape varieties as Champagne in a similar climate, the wines have a similar style and are increasingly gaining a reputation for quality on the world stage. Chapel Down and Nyetimeber would be a couple of the more famous, but it’s worth looking into to some of the less famous one too such as Wiston or Renegade, a winery in Bethnal Green! And if you want something a little more unusual, sparkling reds have been tipped as one of the trends for 2018! You can get examples such as Sparking Shiraz from Australia or red Lambrusco from Italy. Both have vibrant fruit character, soft tannins, and just a touch of sweetness. Great with barbecues, trust me!

Which ever style you go for make sure it is well chilled (nothing worse than a warm bubbly) and enjoyed with friends! “While it may be easy just to dash to the shops and pick up a bottle of Prosecco we are lucky enough now to have more choice for sparkling wines than ever before!”



RHONE WINE TOURS £649 Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th October
Not all wine tours are the same!

South London school of wine have put together an amazing Wine Tour for you with local expert Linda Field of the Auberge du Vin – a beautiful Auberge in the heart of the Ventoux vineyard. You will also be accompanied by your own local wine school tutor, selected for their passion & wine knowledge, who will be on hand to answer any of your wine questions!

The Group size is small & intimate enabling us to visit higher quality small artisanal producers that larger tour companies just can’t visit. You will taste some truly stunning Southern Rhone wines. The maximum number of guests is 12.

Linda has lived in the region for many years so has been able to select some of the best local restaurants for our delicious lunches and dinners. The price includes all local travel, accommodation, wine tastings and meals.
Your accommodation will be in the luxurious rooms of the Auberge (with swimming pool) with its own purpose-built wine teaching facility overlooking Mt Ventoux & the surrounding vineyards. Recently voted one of the world’s top 10 hotels for wine lovers!