I am often asked ‘What is my favourite champagne?’, or at our annual The Bubbles Festivals, ‘What is my favourite sparkling wine on our tasting list?’ I try to avoid answering, and sometimes I joke that I answer like a politician – meaning I don’t answer the question! Or liken it to having to name a favourite child. I love so many different champagnes and sparkling wines and what I choose depends on a range of factors – the occasion, the budget, the weather, what food I’m serving, what do I feel like, who am I drinking it with …?
Everyone’s palate is different, so choosing favourites is entirely subjective. One of my favourite things to do is find new bubbly discoveries, learn from winemakers, and share my knowledge on champagne and sparkling wine. It’s why I created The Bubbles Review and why I include a brief introduction at The Bubbles Festivals, and why I created the Bubbly Appreciation Course and recently, our popular The Bubbles Reviewers Club, where we get to share how different sparklings are created, and all of the things that influence a tasting experience so you can truly appreciate what you’re drinking and understand why you like some sparkling wines more than others.
Choosing bubbly for Christmas is subjective too, and your choices will depend on what sort of Christmas you’re planning? A full sit-down lunch or dinner with a hot meal? Maybe it’s a BBQ, or cold platters of seafood, charcuterie, and salads.
A lot of people tell me they love sparkling reds, especially for Christmas. You may have seen in our blog ‘Big, bold and Bubbly’, and in recent emails and virtual tastings, that I’m not a fan of sparkling reds, but I do appreciate the history of this in Australian sparkling wine, and appreciate that with the right food match it can be a great experience.
We’ve also recently featured some quite different varietals for our The Bubbles Reviewers Club members and our giveaways. The sparkling tempranillo from Sutherland Estate has been such a hit. The sparkling Roussanne we shared from George’s Folly is so versatile with food matches, as a charmat method it has some lightness on the palate, but also some depth and complexity from the wine making and grape variety. You could easily serve this throughout the day.
We’ve had so many lovely Aussie sparklings work with us this year, from Tasmania to the Adelaide Hills, to the Hunter, King, Yarra, Barossa, and Swan Valleys.
We’ve featured Italian sparklings and even a sparkling sake!
For champagne lovers we’ve had some wonderful champagnes this year too, some at The Bubbles Festivals as well as giveaways and The Bubbles Reviewers Club partners. I highly recommend all of them to you at this special time of year. Champagne is not just for pre-meal – you can easily serve champagne throughout the entire menu. I totally recommend staying with bubbles all day! I love a Blanc de Blancs with seafood and look for blends of the ‘holy trilogy’ of sparkling grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier– for more versatility, and Blanc de Noirs and Rosés to match with more robust flavours.
A family tradition for me is pancakes and champagne on Christmas morning. We enjoy our family meal in the evening, we often have family stay over on Christmas Night, and a Boxing Day tradition is to ‘back it up’ the following day with a champagne breakfast with platters created from lovely festive leftovers.
You may have noticed on our socials recently that the one thing that I refuse to serve is Mimosas! Fine if you want to use a spritzer style sparkling made in the charmat (or even carbonation) method, which are designed to be a mixer like a Prosecco, but please never add orange juice to a beautiful champagne! Champagne takes years to make, and as you might imagine, I certainly don’t recommend spoiling it by adding a juice! Orange juice is very sweet, you’re not fooling anyone by trying to pretend you’re not drinking bubbles for breakfast by adding a breakfast juice!
Whatever I’m serving, I love sharing the stories behind the wine and always include an introduction to what I’m pouring for my Christmas Day guests. This year choose something different to surprise and delight your guests.
The most important thing is not to stress, the festive season should be lots of bubbly fun!
A big shout out to our The Bubbles Festival, The Bubbles Reviewers Club, and giveaway partners in 2023! There were some reliable bubbly favourites and some delightful new sparkling discoveries. You can see the links to their websites (some still with promo codes) here:
- Champagne Lombard for Australian purchases see Direct Wine Sellers (TBR Club members discount available)
- Champagne Collet – Ask for it at your local wine store
- Champagne Duval-Leroy – Ask for it at your local wine store
- Sparkling Sake
- George’s Folly – Subscriber discount: THANKU15 – 15% Off their wines – TBR Club members 20% discount available)
- Howard Vineyard
- Golding Wines
- Steels Gate
- Sutherland Estate
- Peterson House
- Tar & Roses Prosecco
- Mordrelle Wines
- Levrier by Jo Irvine
- Croser Petaluma
- Grant Burge
- House of Arras
- Sin Gin Distillery
- Saint Aidan
- Clandestine Vineyard
- Lost Farm Tasmania
RIEDEL – The Wine Glass Company
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Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.