Bubbles on a Budget!

I thought it might be a nice idea to put together a series of ‘snapshot’ posts that will go out daily up until Christmas Eve – nothing too onerous to read, just a bit of (hopefully) useful info as we all get ready for Christmas.

Today “Bubbles on a Budget”

Champagne is often the go-to drink of choice for celebrations but can be a tad expensive.  If you remain staunchly in the ‘Champagne’ camp then I suggest you look out for the multitude of Supermarket deals available currently where branded Champers is often available for around £25. 


If you are prepared to go for a ‘Supermarket own’ label then you can often get these for under £20 as Supermarkets are happy to push these out at lower prices. (see top tip below)

However, if you are looking to save a few pennies but want to keep the quality and stick to traditional method sparklers – remember legally no one can call their sparkling wine ‘Champagne’ unless it comes from the Champagne region – I would recommend:

Sparkling wines from New World Producers: Australia – ie Arras, South Africa – ie Graham Beck and New Zealand – ie Akarua or Cloudy Bay.  There are fabulous examples from England too but often these are quite a bit over £20 ie Nyetimber, Gusbourne, Chapel Down so don’t really count in my ‘Bubbles on a Budget’ piece but i couldn’t not mention them given how good they are!

For real value for money though, I would look to France and Spain – Cremant (France) and Cava (Spain) are sparkling wines made using the same method as Champagne – second fermentation in the bottle. These will often only cost you £10-£15 for a really good bottle. 

Cremant is made in a number of French regions (ie Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Jura, Limoux, Loire) and each uses grapes synonymous with their region. Cremant de Loire is the most readily available, this is often Chenin based and is a great alternative to Champers.

Cava is made in Spain. Using native grapes: ie Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo, Trepat, Garnacha as well as some Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Cava is seeing a surge in quality – look for the term Cava de Paraje on the label for the best.  I often buy Cava as an alternative to Champagne.

Franciacorta from Italy is another place worth exploring for high quality traditional method sparkling but these wines are rarer on the UK High Street and will often be over £20-£25.

Now onto the behemoth that is Prosecco!

Prosecco does divide the audience – I’m firmly in the ‘not for me’ camp mainly because in my opinion there is an awful lot of very average Prosecco on the market, but it is pretty inexpensive and if you like fruitier, sweeter styles of sparkling then Prosecco is probably the place to go.

Prosecco is the ideal sparkler for those on a budget as they will be less expensive than the wines I’ve already mentioned, mainly because the production method is a lot cheaper (basically they are usually tank fermented ie the second fermentation takes place in a big tank before the wine is bottled under pressure).

As I’ve already said the supermarkets are awash with the stuff, and many will give you a fair bit of change from a tenner! – For better quality Prosecco look for any that have DOCG on the label or include the words Conegliano and/or Valdobbiadene or Cartizze.

I will leave you with a top tip – that will help when you are perusing the supermarket shelves for your next tipple –

When choosing your bottle, always check the label it can tell you a multitude of things:

a) Supermarket own Champagne can be hard to spot – but if you check the back label of the bottle it should show a code which says “MA” followed by loads of numbers. This denotes a wine brand owned by a supermarket.

b) For Prosecco if you like a little bit of sweetness go for a label that says ‘Extra Dry’ or ‘Dry’ (yes I kid you not!) If you prefer the wine to actually be dry then look for ‘Brut’.

c) For New World sparkling wines – check the bottle labels (front or back) to ensure it includes any of the following terms: “Fermented in this bottle”, “Traditional method”, “Method Champenoiseand if you are buying South African: Cap Classique” or “Methode Cap Classique” (MCC) – where you see these terms, you will know these wines have been made with the same love and attention as Champagne!

So there you have it…. Bubbles on a Budget. As always, if you have any questions or want any advice, please do drop me a line.

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