Bubbly tips for the festive season: Drink British, ignore the silver spoon and abandon the coupe

Charlie Holland, head winemaker and CEO of Gusbourne, talks to Hetty Lintell about how and what to drink this Christmas.

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without bubbles of some sort and some of the finest sparkling wine is found on English soil. With the trend for buying British ever growing, there is no better time to try English sparkling wine and, if you’re investing in something special, you’ll want to know where it comes from.

‘English wines are more pretty and elegant with a lovely vibrancy to them – they are exciting to drink, more unique and individual ’

‘Many companies buy in grapes from other estates,’ explains Mr Holland, ‘but we use our own, picking only what we want to pick when it’s ripe and ready.’ Mr Holland isn’t trying to make perfect wine—he feels it’s more important to produce something that has a sense of expression and place: ‘A terroir effect.’

Charlie Holland’s tips for sparkling-wine drinking this season

Make sure you buy traditional method (it will say on the label). It’s more time consuming and expensive to make, but the end product is by far the best.

When you pour it, you should get a lovely little mousse collar around the top, but, most importantly, there should be thin trails of bubbles coming up from the centre. It should last 10–15 minutes without going flat.

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Some 90% of flavour comes from the nose, so serve in a wine glass or tulip-shaped glass to better channel the aroma. Coupe glasses are pretty, but aren’t best for showing off the bubbles or the taste and aroma.

English sparking wine is perfectly suited to smoked salmon, due to the higher level of acidity cutting through the oily fattiness of the fish – it works the same as a slice of lemon. The more Pinot Noir in a wine, the more it can stand up to other dishes.

The best party wine is our Classic Cuveée – a mix of three grapes, Chardonnay (length and acidity), Pinot Noir (texture and silky) and Pinot Meunier (a red grape similar to Pinot Noir that helps to bind the other two grapes together).

Once opened, it will keep longer the more wine is left in the bottle (less air). Don’t use a silver spoon – it doesn’t work. Use a stopper that clips on.

Keep it at a constant temperature – 12˚C–14˚C degrees in a cellar is perfect, with some humidity so as not to dry the cork out. EuroCave make very good wine fridges.

Chill your glasses in the fridge, as well as the bottle. To cool a bottle quickly, wrap in wet kitchen towel and put in the freezer – just don’t forget about it!

Don’t save it for a special occasion, drink it on a Monday, on its own, and make the wine the occasion.