Pop the cork on the best sparkling

No celebration is complete without a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine.  Here are our tips for serving, and 15 great drops to try.

Two glasses of champagne served with fruit

Popping a bottle of bubbly, from a classic Champagne to an elegant Aussie sparkling wine, is always a cause for celebration. It’s like “tasting the stars,” as the legendary monk Dom Perignon is reported to have said, but what’s the best way to serve it? With the advice of the experts, you can make sparkling wine the star of any summer celebration.

Pop your cork

Want to perfect the art of opening a bottle of bubbly? Unless you’re celebrating a Formula One race victory, don’t spray it everywhere! Always be mindful of the pressure that the cork is subjected to, and make sure that the bottle has not been shaken before you attempt to open it. Remove the capsule first (most capsules have a pull tab, which makes it easy), then point the bottle away from everyone. Keeping pressure on top of the cork, gently unscrew the wire cage to remove. Grip the cork tightly, keeping your thumb on top, and slowly twist back and forth until it releases.

“If it’s done well, it should sound like the bottle is taking its first breath,” advises Sarah Burvill, the winemaker behind the celebrated sparkling rosé and pinot noir from Adelaide Hills winery Bird in Hand. “But in most cases it will end with a familiar pop,” she says.

Flute or coupe? We settle the age-old debate…

The coupe – that wide, round and shallow glass said (erroneously) to have been modelled on Marie Antoinette’s breasts – certainly packs a great deal of retro flair when you’re drinking sparkling wine. However, the flute with its tall, narrow trumpet is the more stylish and functional way to go, says Burvill. “Sparkling holds its bubbles for longer in an elongated glass, but you want to make sure that it is not too narrow at the top, or you will not be able to appreciate the aromas,” she says.

Take the temperature

Baby, it’s hot outside ‒ but that doesn’t mean you should chill your bottle of sparkling to sub-Arctic temperatures. It should be cool enough that it is refreshing but not too cold that the flavour and aromas are suppressed – and that means different treatment for a vintage or a non-vintage bottle.

“Non-vintage sparkling spends less time on lees and is less complex and bold, so should be served colder, at around six to nine degrees celsius,” says Kirkpatrick. “Vintage sparkling should be served at around 10 to 12 degrees to really allow the aromas to open up.”

What to eat with

How best to edibly accessorise your sparkling wine, whether it’s with a summertime snack or a full-meal monty, will depend on whether the wine is white, pink or red and whether it is sweet, dry or somewhere in the middle. Generally speaking, the lighter and crisper the wine, the better suited it will be to things such as fresh prawns, Comté cheese and fruit salad. Rosé styles tend to have a richer mid-palate and stand up well to salmon, pork, pasta, grilled vegetables, figs and parmesan, says Burvill, while sparkling reds are delicious with antipasto, quail and poached pears.

This feature was created by Vintage Cellars.

Try these

Canard Duchene Brut NV, Champagne, France

Combining fruit, intensity and hints of buttery brioche with delicate bubbles.

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV, Champagne, France

Elegant with layers of fruit complexity, and freshness from the pinot noir.

Pommery Brut Royal NV, Champagne, France

Complex and lively, with notes of assertive red fruit creating a rich and delicate palate.

Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut NV Champagne, France

Pinot noir helps create a toasty character with pear, brioche and praline aromatics.

Charles de Cazanove Tradition Brut Vintage, Champagne, France

Aged for nine years adding to the boldness of the chardonnay used.

Mumm Cordon Rouge NV, Champagne, France

A rich and elegant palate is imbued with hints of lemon, stone fruits and green apple.

Marcel Pierre Brut NV, Champagne, France

A perfect blend that’s delicate and smooth, while offering bright fruit flavours.

Pol Roger Brut NV, Champagne, France

Structured and aromatically complex, with a persistent and elegant mousse of small bubbles.

Fili Prosecco DOC Extra Dry NV, Veneto, Italy

Featuring a creamy, light, steady mousse with delicate apricot fruit. 

Calneggia DOCG Asolo Prosecco, Veneto, Italy

Light nutty aromas of biscuit and cashew. Perfect with antipasto.

Roaring Beach Sparkling, Tamar Valley

Citrus and apple aromas balance with biscuit flavours and a creamy texture.

Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills

Beautiful crisp acidity is perfectly balanced by a creamy texture.

Georg Jensen Hallmark Cuvee NV, Tasmania

Taut acidity and elegant minerality mix with lemon pith and roast cashews.

Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV, Marlborough, NZ

Ripe fruit drives the palate and is rounded by toasted brioche notes.

Arras Brut Elite Sparkling NV, Tasmania

Vanilla and exotic spices on the nose are followed by a fresh fruit palate.

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