Is Champagne the only option for a celebration?
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Sam Howard from Norfolk-based wine specialists HarperWells has some suggestions for celebration drinks, including a crowd-pleasing alternative to Champagne.
No other wine producing region has spent more on marketing the importance of this most luxury of drinks than the champenoise. So if money is no object and it's a statement piece you are looking for, then Shawn Carter's Armand de Brignac, known as 'Ace of Spades' should make that point without too much need for explanation.
Better known as Jay Z, Carter name-dropped Ace of Spades in his rap 'Show Me What You Got' and finally bought the champagne house outright in 2014.
However, if you don't want to stretch the budget to Jay Z and Beyonce levels, then looking outside of Champagne can save you a pretty packet without your guests thinking you've scrimped on the drinks budget. The phenomenal success of Prosecco has left other Italian sparkling wines seriously overlooked. A vintage Franciacorta, for example, which is required to have a minimum of 30 months bottle age before disgorgement, offers great value when compared to the equivalent from Champagne.
After a few glasses of Franciacorta, out come the canapés, so you'll need a wine that is incredibly versatile with food. Pinot Grigio right?
Wrong! This 'dry white wine' lacks the flavour punch to stop your guests blowing the budget and reaching for another glass of Franciacorta, and washes down far too quickly to keep mum and dad off the dance floor. We suggest staying with a crowd-pleasing region, but going off-piste with a white Rioja.
While you may wish to celebrate with the finest Firsts Growths or 1er Cru Burgundy, save your prized bottles for an intimate gathering. For larger groups where you'll be ordering by the case not the bottle, we suggest hitting the sweet spot and offering your wine-loving guests something serious while keeping it seriously-delicious for the rest.
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Grace Bridge, Californian Pinot Noir, ticks both boxes. The noble grape of Burgundy performs well in the USA and the lighter style of red pairs well with both red and white meats, can handle a bit of spice and is easy going without compromising on flavour.