Sarah, better known as ‘Crushed Grape,’ here – I know I am completely rubbish at this. Last week, tired at the end of a long day, we went out for a drink and I ordered my favourite tipple. Mark leans towards me, I lean back, and he says, “What does it taste like?” “That’s easy,” I think replying, “English sparkling wine” – actually, that’s a lie, I still say Champagne, but I’m learning! He tries again patiently, “break it down,” he adds to which I churlishly reply, “I don’t want to, I just want to enjoy it!”
This is not the first time I have had this experience. I am the one at a wine tasting who drinks most of the first glass in one go, pulls a face and is about to say something horrid only to look around and see smiles and joy as others talk of “the sensation of mousse” – salmon or chocolate I wonder? While others talk of hints of honey and shortbread, I wander into thoughts along the lines of …. I haven’t had shortbread since I made a burnt batch at school, and didn’t we make rock cakes too then as well? Who makes either of them anymore? I then get completely absorbed in remembering things like cheese straws, which I loved and pineapple upside down cake which I didn’t, only to find I’ve now drunk 3 glasses and am none the wiser. I’ve said it before, I like what I like and I quickly know what I don’t.
Things I have learnt – to be skipped over by those in the know and that will hopefully redeem me in my husband’s eyes.
- France has Champagne, which it jealously guards as a name and has protected status
- Italy has Prosecco
- Spain has Cava
- What does England have? English sparkling wine!
To be honest, I never knew the difference, thinking Champagne was the real thing and everything else was somehow inferior. But, as we know with Ridgeview winning the prized Decanter award, taking it from the Champagne region for the first time, as well as multiple other awards being won in England, that is not the case.
Forgive me for keeping this simple – it’s how I think.
Champagne and English Sparkling Wine is made using the traditional method. What this means is that the wine is fermented once in a steel tank and then again, when yeast and sugar are added in the bottle, which provides the fizz. This gives a more ‘complex’ flavour than say Prosecco which is fermented in tanks in a shorter space of time, with more sugar. (I don’t follow much more than this as Mark talks of ‘yeast’ and I think of Marmite.)
Experiment – this I can recommend as it involves having to drink a bottle of both Prosecco and English Sparkling wine while pretending to be carrying out research! “Look at the bubbles in Prosecco,” says Mark, “they are larger, more uneven and don’t last as long as compared to those in the English Sparkling wine/Champagne glass” He looks up to see if I am following. “It’s true! I can see it,” pleased with my success. The only problem is, the glass never stays full enough for long enough to be more exact than that.
Feeling quite pleased with my new found knowledge – more soon!