What wine will you celebrate Easter with next weekend? Easy question. Britain is afloat on a sea of bubbles and Easter, like Christmas, provides the perfect reason to crack open a bottle of fizz. Not that any of us needcan excuse because for some years now fizzy wine has shifted from being a drop for special occasions to an everyday swigger. Sales were up at a whopping 27 per cent again last year, driven largely by prosecco.
We drink more champagne than any other country apart from France and have been knocked off that perch only four times since 1985. Despite economic gloom, champagne sales were also up last year and - given the swooning to be heard from wine buyers, commentators ans soummeliers at 2016's tasting - our love affair with bubbles is not going to fade any time soon.
As usual, fizzy wine fans will be overwhelmed with choice this Easter, with merchants and supermarkets awash with sparkling - and not so sparkling - deals. Fizz is the most trying wine to taste and assess because the bubbles not only whoosh the alcohol straight into your bloodstream and they also mask the quality of the underlying wine. It's all too easy, even if you are a professional, to be wrong-footed. One sure-fire test of any sparkler is to leave a glass overnight for the bubbles to disappear and to taste it in the morning when its quality, or lack thereof, will be clear.
If it's prosecco you are after, don't fret about the so called shortage; producers rushed the 2015 vintage through its secondary fermentation in tank and into bottle last winter, and shelves were restocked before Christmas. Now that prosecco is made from the glera grape, grown in a delimited area of Veneto in Italy, quality should have improved, although I can't say I've noticed.
Pop open Asda's lively, floral, tutti-frutti, luscious Extra Special Prosecco Brut, just 11.5 per cent and dowm £1.75 to £6.50 until March 31.
Good cava, drier, and made from the méthode champenoise, won't break the bank either. This Easter tuck into Waitrose's Castillo Perelada Cava, a light, waxy, floral, easy quaffer, down £2.50 to £6.99. While at Waitrose it would be madness not to pick up its gorgeous, lemon biscuit-crisp, non-vintage Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne, down £5.75 to only £17.24 a pop.
Or try Lea & Sandeman's (020 7244 0522) delicious, distinguished, fresh brown bread-scented R & L Legras Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Chouilly Champagne, a £25.95 charmer. Watch out here next week forca cracking £14 Easter champagne.