Posted by Lockhart Catering on Monday 11 November 2013
Drinks trend: English sparkling wine (plus cocktail recipe)
The rise and rise of English sparkling wine
There’s a trend for consumers to eat more locally sourced food, so it’s no surprise that many people are also looking closer to home for their wine.
The industry is starting to recognise the quality of our home-grown brands: several producers won a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge back in May, Waitrose has seen sales booming and top-end bars and restaurants like Gordon’s Wine Bar and Marcus Warings’s Sir Gilbert Scott are serving English fizz (which apparently outsells their bottles of Moët & Chandon).
European wine producers are starting to take notice too: the French are producing sparkling wine from grapes grown here and the first English sparkling wine tasting was held in Italy last month. Consumers have become fussier when it comes to what they quash: they’re drinking less in volume, but spending more to enjoy better quality wine. So if you sell English sparkling wine, highlight its exceptional quality, rather than promoting it as a budget alternative to champagne.
What’s the difference between champagne and English sparkling wine?
Champagne has to be made from grapes harvested in the champagne region, using the special champagne method to create those famous bubbles. The reason champagne is so prized is that it’s believed the climate and soil in that region is particularly conducive to creating good wine. But there are many parts of England that have a very similar climate to champagne, and the sparkling wine England’s producing is being compared very favourably to champagne by many wine experts.
It’s important to get the details right to wow your customers. Firstly, try to place the bottles on their side while they’re being stored to keep the cork moist so no oxygen can make its way into the bottle. A bottle of champagne or English sparkling wine should be chilled at about 7 to 9 °C (any colder and you might lose both fizziness and flavour) and kept cool with an ice cooler at the table.
What about the glass?
While the vintage saucer shaped glass is making a comeback at some bars because they look so retro, it’s been scientifically proven that the modern champagne flute is better at keeping the bubbles inside the glass. How to pour it? Be gentle with it as you make your way to the table so it doesn’t fizz over when you open it. Lightly hold the cork with a thumb (this stops it from flying over to the next table!) and twist the bottle slowly.
While the ‘pop’ sound of a bottle of something fizzy screams 'celebration' to some people, it’s actually best to open a bottle gently and avoid a loud popping noise. You should look for a hissing sound, or what some people describe as 'a young maiden’s sigh'. Take things slowly and you’ll be on the right track.
Once the bottle has been tasted and approved (usually by the person who ordered it), hold it at a 45 degree angle (making sure the bottle touches the glass to minimise bubble loss) and pour slowly. You don’t want to pour it vertically straight to the bottom of the glass or you’ll lose all the bubbles. The trick is to pour a little into each glass, and top the glasses up once the bubbles have subsided. Stop when the flute is roughly 2/3 full.
Must-have champagne/English sparkling accessories
Make sure you’re kitted out with these essentials:
English sparkling wine cocktail: seasonal recipe
Impress your customers with this seasonal, festive and easy recipe for a cranberry cocktail.
Do you serve English sparkling wine yet, or are you tempted to try it out? Why not let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting us @BunzlLockhart?