A Sparkling Success
In every issue of Take Stock we ask John Mansfield of the Society of Vintners about what’s happening in the world of wine. In this edition his focus shifts to bubbles in time for the festive period…
Now is the time when our customers ask for advice about what to stock for their Christmas and New Year drinks menu. It’s the peak time for sales of Champagne and sparkling wines, therefore make sure you are well prepared ahead of the season and stock up on those wines your customers love and pair well with the foods you are planning to serve.
What to stock
For many, only Champagne will do! Jules Feraud Champagne has notes of caramel, buttered toast, grilled nuts and pistachio shells, and very importantly is available in half bottles, full bottles and magnums – so there’s an option for everyone.
An event sparkler
Offer a wine suitable for parties where your customers will be drinking more than a couple of glasses of something sparkling without breaking the bank. Something like Conte di Campiano Brut Millissimato is a perfect choice. It’s a fragrant pale straw yellow spumante with intense notes of bread crust and apple that will keep any party going.
Don’t forget that there are options like rosé and varying degrees of sweetness. Brut is far and away the most popular, however, it’s a good idea to have a few bottles of sec and demi-sec on hand. Look too for less obvious sparkling wines like Lambrusco, or the less well known Mateus Rose Sparkling.
The perfect serve
No matter how much time and effort you put into selecting your sparkling wines, if they’re served incorrectly the whole customer experience is reduced. Therefore, we work very closely with the world-renowned Wine & Spirit Education Trust to make sure you select and serve the correct sparkling wine.
Demand for prosecco shows no sign of abating, but beware, customers are becoming more descerning about quality. For that reason it’s important to have an entry level – Nua Prosecco is a great example, and then a premium option, such as our Famiglia Pasqua, which has notes of grilled hazelnuts, crisp green apples and melon.
Here, master of wine Victoria Burt DipWSET, the product development manager for Wine Qualifications at WSET, shares her top tips for the perfect serve…
1. Keep it fresh – a cool, constant environment out of strong light is best for long term storage as warmer temperatures can cause the wine to taste older quicker. When served, sparkling wines should be well chilled between 6-10°C. Not only does this make the wine more refreshing to drink, it also lowers the pressure in the bottle so that the cork comes out more gently.
2. Open with care – the build-up of pressure in the bottle can make the cork fly out unexpectedly if not handled correctly. Tilt the bottle 45 degrees, away from your customers, and keep one hand firmly on the top as you loosen the cage around the neck. Twist the bottle, not the cork, and the cork should glide out with a sophisticated ‘pop’. Have a glass ready to catch any spills.
3. Release the aromas – if you don’t have enough flutes or coupes, don’t worry! While they may be the classic choice, a simple white wine glass could actually be the better shape to enhance perception of aromas and flavours. Fill up to the widest part of the glass to allow the wine to fully express itself.
4. Coordinate your canapés – a classic dry white fizz goes perfectly with smoked salmon blinis as the mouth-watering acidity cuts through the oily fish, while sweeter styles like some proseccos work well with melon and prosciutto bites, complementing the sugar in the fruit and counterbalancing the salt in the meat.
5. A festive twist – sparkling wines don’t need to be limited to the aperitif. Sparkling reds such as a frothy dry Lambrusco are becoming increasingly popular and pair well with cured meats, cheeses and pâtés. The flavours pair well while the refreshing acidity and bubbles cleanses the palate.
6. Drink it at its best – a sparkling wine can lose its fizz and delicate flavours quickly, so it’s best enjoyed soon after opening. If you need to store it for later, use a proper closure and keep the bottle cool to trap in as many bubbles as possible, but don’t leave it too long as it will spoil after as little as one day.
Find out more about WSET courses at wsetglobal.com