Ask the wine expert: Let’s get fizzical this Valentines
With Valentine’s day fast approaching can there be a more appropriate way to celebrate this occasion than to indulge with some sparkling wine? But where do these magical bubbles come from? Our resident wine expert and Master of Wine Nick Adams reveals all.
Did an Englishman beat the French to create the first ‘Champagne’?
In the Cotswold town of Winchcombe there is a plague which marks the occasion when an Englishman probably became the first person to record the existence of a phenomenon we now take for granted – sparkling wine. It was Christopher Merrett - a scientist, physician, naturalist and metallurgist, who in 1662, first documented the existence of bubbles in an alcoholic beverage.
English winemakers had been adding sugar to wines to give them a refreshing, sparkling quality, 30 years before a certain, very famous, monk in France's Champagne region (Dom Pérignon, who was thought to have invented sparkling wine in 1697). Ironically neither understood the process of getting the bubble into wine at the time, the result of a secondary fermentation process, the bubbles were achieved by accident. However, it is Champagne that we often associate with the crème de la crème of sparkling wine.
The irony today, possibly, is that English sparkling wine is now the finest it has ever been and may in time start to challenge Champagne in terms of quality as well as style. This is down to the fact that we have a similar climate and soil type to Champagne and we plant the same trio of grape varieties.
However, whatever the occasion there is sometimes nothing quite like a glass of fizz, so here are my sparkling recommendations for February:
The Adnams Selection Fizz, Rose Brut
Some might say that the house fizz from Southwold’s Adnams is just as good as it’s pricier counterparts and with its dry, crisp finish it certainly is a good all-round sparkling wine that is perfect when paired with nibbles and canapés, but is delightful on its own. Produced in the Loire Valley and made from Cabernet Franc, the Rosé Brut has aromas and flavours of crushed strawberries. It’s a wine with character and a touch of style.
Ayala Rosé Brut Majeur NV
Since Bollinger’s acquisition Ayala has come on by leaps and bounds in terms of quality and style. What I like about the Ayala style is that is a real contrast to the big, “beefy”, black grape dominant character which exemplifies Bollinger. With Ayala there is no lack of fruit or character, but a hallmark of wonderful delicacy and elegance. As a result, the Rosé Majeur makes for an exceptional aperitif style – great with nibbles and canapés, but also a pleasant surprise with pan fried salmon or sea trout, served with a cucumber and fennel salad.
Valentines special offer: Get 10% off Adnams Rose Brut and the Ayala Rose Brut Majeur until Wednesday 14 February (while stocks last). Instore at the Deli on the lower ground.
Prosecco La Scarpetta NV, Veneto Italy
Fresh as a daisy, fruity, off-dry and gently fizzy – perfect easy drinking
Try Something Different
Crémant de Jura Brut Désiré Petit “DP” NV, Jura France
Made from 100% Chardonnay this is crisp, zesty with juicy apple flavours – dry and rounded
“Fly The Flag”
Tuffon Hall Classic Cuvée Brut NV, Essex England
A blend of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay – dry, racy and invigorating with orchard fruits
Dom Pérignon 2006, Champagne France
Roughly 50:50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this majestic Champagne is one of the greatest of their modern-day releases – a legend in the making
Discover a wide selection of wine in our Deli and Wine Bar on the lower ground floor
Images are for illustrations purposes only.
Jarrold resident wine expert Nick Adams is one of only 369 Masters of Wine in the world and has over 30 years experience in the world of wine. He has visited many of the world's famous wine regions and has worked with some of the most renowned names and producers. Nick aims to give you a greater level of service and information on the wines in our Deli and Wine Bar.