While Champagne remains the firm favourite, sparkling wines have been making the headlines in recent weeks as the Chancellor announced a simplified system to tax lower alcohol drinks. Mr Sunak said their duties would be reduced to the same level as still wines – bringing the 28% duty premium to an end.
Many hoped that English sparkling wine would be given a tax advantage over Champagne and Prosecco too, but this was not to be.
Under the existing system, the premiums for sparkling wines are currently £2.88 per litre if under 8.5% ABV or £3.81 if the ABV sits between 8.5% and 15%. In practice, the changes mean a bottle of UK produced Chapel Down’s 12% sparkling wine would see a 64p tax reduction.
The proof is in the bubbles
Historically, wines that enjoy a second fermentation within the bottle make the best sparkling wines. There are exceptions and differences of opinion on this matter, of course, but this process that Champagne goes through is why it is considered exceptional in comparison to most other sparkling wines and why people are happy to pay the premium.
At the end of the day, wines with the greatest quality of grapes and the best winemaking practices produce the finest wines be they sparkling or otherwise.
Sparkling wines making headlines
Sparkling wine of any kind brings with it a feeling of celebration. We consider bubbles and sparkle to be a time for merriment and frivolity. A fine bottle of Champagne has always been there for ‘special occasions’, be it a Birthday, Christmas dinner, a New Year’s party, or a wedding.
Champagne will always be the elegant, sophisticated and vibrant grandmother of all sparkling wines; she has earned this revered reputation for being ‘the best’. But there are now many sparkling wines being produced that have a similar sophistication to them and warrant the appreciation they are receiving of late.
The sparkling wines being produced in the UK and other more established wine regions are starting to really produce some enticing styles of sparkle that even wine aficionados cannot turn their noses up at.
These wines are so good probably because they are produced in the same way as Champagne and include grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and are fermented in the bottle.
UK sparkling wines are quite impressive when you consider the volatile weather we have in this country!
There are well established UK winemakers like Chapel Down and Balfour Hush Heath making delicious sparkling wines at varying price levels, and new names like Roebuck Estate that are worth consideration.
Sparkling wines produce many different styles, flavours, bubbles and experiences. You are likely to have a jolly good time trying to find one you can truly enjoy again and again.
Leaders in sparkling wines
The Spanish and Italians have been producing fine sparkling wines for centuries, and while Cava was the ‘in tipple’ in the 1990s, Prosecco was more in favour in the 2000s. South Africa, Australia and New Zealand also produce fine sparkling wines of the New World and have the climates to make exceptional quality sparkling wines that can hold their own.