Champagne Uncorked

If you put the words ‘celebration’ and ‘drink’ together then you’re most likely to come up with ‘champagne’. And what day could be greater cause for celebration than your wedding day? (Apart from the day you found €50 in your back pocket that you didn’t know you had)… So it’s only natural that champagne has a big part to play at weddings – usually as a welcome aperitif or as a toast to the happy couple.
Unfortunately, champagne doesn’t come cheap and decent bottles often start at €25 a pop – so you could buy a couple of bottles with that €50 you found, but that might not go very far unless you’re only planning to invite about 10 people to the wedding – while the really good champagnes can reach crazy prices.
Thankfully, there are cheaper alternative sparkling wines available that, although they may not be as prestigious as champagne, can often taste just as good at half the price.

This Italian sparkler has been rapidly gaining popularity in recent years as improved production techniques have resulted in better wines at very affordable prices. Two versions are generally available, frizzante and spumante. Frizzante means the wine will be lightly sparkling and it’s fairly basic stuff – probably best for using in champagne cocktails than for drinking on its own. Spumante is fuller-bodied and has more bubbles so would be closer in style to actual champagne. The best prosecco I have tried is by a producer called Rizzardi, which is available in O’Briens for €14.99.

A Spanish sparkling wine that is produced mostly in Catalonia, cava is made using the same method as for champagne but cannot be labelled as champagne because it does not come from the same region. Over in Spain, you can get decent bottles for about €5 to €10 but over here they’re more likely to cost between €10 and €15. Again, having worked for O’Briens I am more familiar with their products and their easy-drinking La Rosca cava definitely does the business for a very reasonable €12.99.

If your budget does stretch to actual champagne – but perhaps not the expensive, well-known brands like Bollinger and Moet – then O’Briens’ Beaumont des Crayeres Grande Reserve punches well above its weight while being a fair whack cheaper. It’s currently down from €30 to €25 and is well worth snapping up at that price – I have tasted all three and I can honestly say there’s not much difference between them – well, not €30 worth of difference anyway!

For those who like their bubbles to be of a pink persuasion, there are also several cut-price options available. Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rosé is always a good bet and comes in at under €15 so its gluggability to affordability ratio is pretty high. O’Briens also has two cracking pink sparklers that come in at under €20 – Rizzardi’s Fior di Rosa (basically a pink prosecco) and Taltarni Brut Taché from Australia.

All of the above – except the Beaumont des Crayeres champagne – are currently part of a 4 for 3 special offer at O’Briens. I’m not sure how long the offer will last but now is definitely a good time to buy!

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