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King of the Wine: Fizz for Liz

Food & Drink

King of the Wine is back with some top tips to help you celebrate this week ?

Biniam Girmay is a brilliant, professional cyclist. A world beater, in fact. He can mix it with the best sprinters in one day or three-week stage races.

What he cannot do, is drink. Standing on the podium, having won a stage at the recent Giro d’Italia, the Eritrean rider leaned over the top of a magnum bottle of Prosecco and started to release the cage. In doing so, the cork flew out of the bottle and into his left eye. He was last seen heading to hospital rather than the start of the next stage.

This mangler of words has always been a firm #SayNoToProsecco advocate. That act of violence to a bright and shining star, was further proof why we should resist the urge to toast our Queen, gawd love ‘er, with that Italian tipple.

Our love affair with sparkling wine now goes well beyond wanting to toast the good (or bad) health of a monarch. Offers aplenty attract one and all to boxes of cheap Prosecco by the front door of many a supermarket across the land. Mass produced, highly discounted – it is the number one drink for lots of people, rather than being held back for special occasions.

Before Prosecco it was Cava and Lambrusco, but both have an image problem based on being something a relative would have drunk, or, down to the mass-produced swill that ended up dominating the supermarket shelves.

So, what do you drink if you’re not an American hip hop artists with enough money to buy your own Champagne label?

Cava is good these days, and far better value for money than the discounted Prosecco you might choose instead. Spain, and large parts of Europe, are also producing several very good sparkling wines that come under the Pet Nat label (Pétillant Naturel). These create bubbles naturally in the bottle, rather than with added yeast or sugars.

A name you may have seen, but also been confused by, is Crémant. Crémant is made in the same way as Champagne, but often using different grape varieties and from regions outside of Champagne. I like Crémants from Loire, Jura, and Alsace – the last two regions more famous for their still and aged wines. All three are starting to take hold in the nation’s shopping baskets, but please, go find them in your independents first!

As neither a monarchist or a republican, I’ll be raising a glass* this weekend to the simple fact that I have four days off, and very little to do other than avoid seeing Nicholas Witchell on the TV.

What you should be toasting the Queen, or queens in your life with this weekend are:

De Chanceny Crémant de Loire ‘Brut Nature 2015’ – At £21.50 this is a first bottle of the night affair. Tight bubbles, pear, white flowers. It’s celebratory stuff. Recommended on a recent visit to Once Upon a Vine in Horsforth.

Camillo Donati Ribelle Rosato 2019; This is like fizzy summer fruits squash, that packs a punch, and would sit perfectly in the garden. With or without food or sun. £19.50, Wayward Wines

Casa Belfi Col Fondo Prosecco; Alright, I said you shouldn’t drink Prosecco, but this is different. Col Fondo is cloudy, has bite and takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it when you do. £17.50, Latitude

* Top tip: use a white wine glass instead of a flute. Better for the aromas and flavours of the wine. Just go easy on the pour size.

Casa Belfi