Learning how to drink sparkling wine properly will allow you to derive even more pleasure from the experience. All good wine is made to be savoured, and sparkling wine is no exception. If you’ve got a few bottles of bubbly for a special occasion and want to know how to drink it the best way, we’ve got you covered.
As award-winning producers of English sparkling wine and providers of top wine tasting experiences, we are well-placed to give expert tips. This guide will teach you all the elements that go into drinking a sparkling wine like a sommelier, from opening a bottle properly to serving temperature, appropriate glasses, and proper tasting techniques.
By the end, you’ll know exactly how to get the most out of your sparkling wine, whether it’s red, white, or rosé.
Before You Drink
How to Open Sparkling Wine
First of all, make sure you know how to open sparkling wine the safe way. Hold the bottle so that it’s angled away from you, with one hand at the base and the other with fingers wrapped around the cork. Place your thumb on top of the cork to prevent it from flying into someone or damaging something.
The most important thing to remember is to twist the bottle, not the cork. Do it slowly and surely until you feel the cork start to loosen and hear a soft fizz (as opposed to a pop). Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to seamlessly serve your sparkling wine.
How to Serve Sparkling Wine
At What Temperature Should Sparkling Wine Be Served?
Your drinking experience will be enhanced if you serve your sparkling wine at the correct temperature. Sparkling wine thrives when it’s chilled at temperatures of around 7˚C for white sparkling wine and 10-14˚C for red sparkling wine.
Red wine tastes better at warmer temperatures because of its greater tannin content – higher temperatures help to smooth out these tannins. You should never serve wine above 18˚C. Similarly, serving wine that’s below 7˚C will dull the flavours and aromas.
How to Chill Your Sparkling Wine
To adequately chill your sparkling wine, you can put it in an ice bucket for 30 minutes or in a fridge for around 3 hours. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead before serving sparkling wine to account for this.
It’s a good idea to get familiar with how to store sparkling wine properly, too, to ensure the best preparation for your sparkling wine tasting.
What Glass Should I Serve Sparkling Wine In?
Your glass choice can have a surprising impact on your drinking experience. Sparkling wine suits a Champagne flute best. These tall glasses help the wine to keep the fizz while also helping the drinker to capture the wine’s aromas. The long stems of a Champagne flute allow you to hold the glass without warming the bowl where the wine sits.
In contrast to this, some sommeliers believe standard white wine glasses are better for sparkling wine. The reasoning is the taller structure and smaller surface area of a flute can delay drinkers from taking in the full flavours.
Whichever glass you decide on between the two, the steps for how to drink sparkling wine like you’re at a tasting will be the same.
Should I Decant Sparkling Wine?
Generally, the expert opinion is to nearly always decant red wines. This adds more oxygen to the wine, a process called “aerating”. Aerating the wine lets it breathe and allows its flavours, notes, and aromas to better express themselves. It also serves to separate any leftover sediment, which is natural for red wines.
Decanting sparkling wine, whether white or red, is not as common. It can reduce the excessive bubbles, allowing the wine to settle and develop so that you can better taste the wine’s textures. Some people, however, enjoy the effervescence of sparkling wine.
Decanting sparkling wine is not a must, so it depends on your preferences.
How to Drink Sparkling Wine: The 5 S’s
Drinking sparkling wine is like any other wine tasting: you need to follow the 5 S’s. These are See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savour:
- See: Take in the wine by eye, noticing its colour and its bubbles. A deeper colour, whether the wine is white or red, can indicate the flavour strength and the wine’s age.
- Swirl: Gently swirl the wine in its glass. This aeration helps the flavours to open up before you take a sip and lets you see the viscosity of the wine by noticing how long it stays on the sides of the glass. Greater viscosity, when the wine stays a while on the sides, usually means a more rounded mouthfeel.
- Smell: Swirling the wine also allows its aromas to rise. Put your nose into the glass, without making contact with the wine, and try to see what notes you can detect.
- Sip: To taste your sparkling wine properly, allow some air in while sipping. Allow it to sit in your mouth for around 3-5 seconds before swallowing (or spitting). Generally, there are three flavour stages to look for: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary are the dominant aromas which come from the grapes, secondary come from the fermentation process, while tertiary comes from the ageing process.
- Savour: “Finishing” the taste of your wine is savouring it. Notice how certain flavours can linger on your palate, and whether new tastes develop or not.
How to Drink Sparkling Red Wine
As red sparkling wine is less common than its white counterpart, there can be confusion about how to drink it. Think of red sparkling wine like most other sparkling wines. Serve it well-chilled at around 8-10°C and in a flute glass. Our Bolney Cuvée Noir is the perfect sparkling red for this, with its creamy richness particularly highlighted at the right temperatures. Follow the 5 S’s above and you’ll get the most out of drinking your sparkling red wine.
What Food Should I Serve With Sparkling Wine?
The bubbles of sparkling wine make it most suited to lighter dishes that aren’t overly rich in flavour. Not overpowering the flavours of your wine is important if it’s the focus of your occasion.
In terms of meals, white sparkling wine can pair wonderfully with fish and poultry dishes. Sparkling wines produced in the traditional method, like Champagnes, suit fresh appetisers and light desserts. When in doubt, most wines should have suggestions on their label for the types of dishes they pair well with.
Replenish Your Sparkling Wine Store
At Bolney Wine Estate, sparkling wine is our forte. For the past 50 years, we’ve been producing award-winning English wines, sparkling and still, that are loved by customers and revered by critics. From crowd-pleasing favourite Bolney Bubbly and stylish Blanc de Blancs to our unique red Cuvée Noir, we’ve got something for everyone.
You can browse our range and buy by the bottle or case or explore our subscribe and save offer for a service that means sparkling wines are delivered to your door every month.Shop English Sparkling Wine