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Advice for Buying Champagne and Sparkling Wines
Thursday, 1st May, 2014  - David Farmer

For the moment we are unable to offer Glug customers a good, well priced sparkling wine but we are on the case. A few customers have asked what they should do so here are the thoughts I have been offering.

Making sparkling wine is as much a manufacturing process as it is winemaking and this limits to a handful the number of companies that can do it efficiently in Australia.

We can buy unlabelled wines from some companies and label them but we will not do this as this does not give Glug customers a material advantage. In other words we would be selling you a wine which is no cheaper than the makers own products.

We continue to look for a product which might for example be a quit line or a genuine bargain but no joy at this time. Our guiding principle is we must offer a wine that is better and cheaper or there is no point.

Here then is what you should do:

1. Avoid the no name French Champagnes from the large cooperatives as they are average at best. You will identify these by the pseudo made up names. They are also the cheapest but please avoid. I'm also not a fan of the basic non-vintage big name brands like Moet and if you want the real French experience it starts at over $65 a bottle.

Vintage costs more but it is the real deal. Smaller houses like Joseph Perrier from Dan Murphy can be found cheaper and these are O.K. So the advice is pay more.

Please email me for advice if you wish.

2. French sparkling wines can be O.K. as they have the manufacturing know how. I see little reason though to go above $15. Still they are no better than the local wines.

3. Do not forget the Spanish sparkling wines as they also have advanced manufacturing methods and under $15 offer a good alternative.

5. The better Australian sparkling wines from cool climate places like Tasmania are good to very good but alas are as expensive as French N.V. Champagne. Jansz N.V. on special at around $20 would be good buying.

6. I also like the flavours of New Zealand sparkling wines and they are easily overlooked. Buy only on special though and without tasting I am loath to recommend.

7. I have noted some good specials on Australian sparkling wines over the last few months at $20 to well under; such as Domaine Chandon around $20, Croser N.V around $20, Yarra Burn N.V around $15 and these will be O.K.

8. For the cheaper sub $10 Australian sparkling wines you will get what you pay for. The cost price to Glug of a basic bottle fermented sparkling wine would be about $5 without a label, and this assumes we wanted to buy it.

This covers most of the options and I regret I have not uncovered the 'smoking gun' of sparkling wine and can now offer the name of a wine which you must buy at all costs. As you drop below $15 do not expect too much but if you find them O.K. drop again in price. You may find the best supermarket special perfectly adequate for your needs.

For all occasions serve these cheaper wines very cold and most folk are happy or be swish and squirt some cassis into each glass as the colour dazzles and the sweetness covers any doubts.

And, while slightly off topic, when I do get the chance to pass on wisdom to young women I tell them there is only one sparkling word to remember and is spelt K, R, U, G, and if the bloke cannot afford that go and get another one - a bloke I mean.

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