By Hannah Walsh
Which budget fizz has the most taste and class? Find out in our prosecco taste test.
Prosecco can be a delicious, great-value alternative to Champagne. We asked supermarkets - including Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose, among others - to nominate an own-label or exclusive prosecco.
We popped the cork of 11 different bottles fizz, ranging from under £7 up to £12, and our expert panel uncovered a brilliant Best Buy to get you rocking around your Christmas tree.
Our Best Buy prosecco is Spar Prosecco Valdobbiadene DOCG (£12, 78%).
Only logged in Which? members can view the results and tasting notes in the table below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the proseccos on test. To get instant access sign up for a trial.
How much sugar does sparkling wine contain?
Strict rules govern how sparkling wine and Champagne can be described when it comes to dryness and sweetness, with labels determined according to the residual sugar content per litre. Unsurprisingly, this can have a dramatic effect on the taste, so it's worth knowing your brut from your doux…
Champagne, cava, prosecco or crémant?
Champagne can only be made in a specified region of north-east France, and almost always from a blend of three grapes: pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. The bubbles come from a second small alcoholic fermentation carried out inside the bottle. The CO2 formed can’t escape and thus dissolves into the wine – so when the bottle is opened, the wine sparkles.
Most Champagne is dry and best served after an hour in the fridge.
Cava, from Spain, is made in the same way as Champagne, usually from three Catalan grapes: macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada. These days, some of the large cava producers have started to use chardonnay and pinot noir as well.
The grapes mostly come from near Barcelona, much further towards the sunny south than the Champagne region. They ripen more, so cava is lower in acidity than Champagne (and considerably cheaper).
Prosecco is from the Veneto region of north-east Italy and is made from the glera grape. For prosecco, the second fizz-creating fermentation is usually carried out in large pressurised tanks, not inside the bottle. Almost all prosecco is a little sweeter than Champagne and cava.
Some of the top prosecco comes from the small towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, and will cost a little more but, generally, prosecco is similarly priced to cava and cheaper than Champagne.
Crémant is sparkling wine that's made in the same way as Champagne, but it can come from other regions in France. Crémants may be made with a variety of grape varieties, other than the traditional Champagne combination, but grapes must be manually harvested. They must also be whole-bunch pressed, and aged for a minimum of nine months. Our expert panel recommended crémant as an alternative to prosecco or cava.
Alcohol-free or low-alcohol sparkling wine could make a good alternative to the boozy options above. This used to be relatively rare, but availability is increasing - supermarkets such as Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose will often stock an alcohol-free or alcohol-low option.
How we test prosecco
We disguised all of the bottles before they were chilled and tasted by a panel of wine experts using International Standards Organisation (ISO) wine glasses. Each expert tried the wines in a different order, before discussing their tasting notes and agreeing on a score for each bottle and which deserve to be Best Buys.
This year our wine experts were: Sarah Abbott, Master of Wine, Swirl and Savour wine events founder, co-chairmen of the International Wine Challenge co-chair; Oz Clarke, award-winning wine writer, speaker and broadcaster; Helen McGinn, wine taster, author and international wine judge; Kathryn McWhirter, author, writer and translator, mainly about wine; and Charles Metcalfe, author, wine and food speaker and co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge (IWC).
Get a behind the scenes peek at our experts swilling, slurping and scoring in our video below. We've speeded it up so you don't need to sit through the many hours it takes us to test all these wines.
How do we test Champagne?
Prosecco is a popular choice, but if you fancy a bit of luxury with your Christmas celebrations then we've got you covered, too. We asked retailers to nominate an own-label or exclusive non-vintage Champagne, and we also included leading brands such as Laurent Perrier, Piper Heidsieck and Veuve Clicquot.
Our expert panel tasted a fizz-tastic 15 Champagnes, ranging from a budget friendly £10 up to £39, and uncovered three excellent Best Buys. The standout bottles from our taste testing impressed with their elegant style, well-balanced acidity and perky fizz.
So which bottles were top of the pops? Head over to our Best Champagne page to find out.
Wines to serve with your Christmas dinner
For our expert recommendations on the hearty reds to serve with your Christmas feast, head over to our best winter reds page. We've included 11 bottles from leading supermarkets, with some budget-friendly options under £6.
Which? members can log in now to view our member exclusive video on the drinks to serve with different Christmas foods, from mince pies through to Christmas turkey and the final flourish of Christmas pudding, recommended by our expert Charles Metcalfe. If you're not yet a Which? member, sign up for a £1 trial to unlock the video below.
Serving tips from our expert panel
Our expert panel shared some sparkling serving tips to get the best from your fizz, particularly when hosting or attending a yule-tide party.
- If you're hosting a horde for a party and serving fizz, then pour a little bit in the bottom of each glass just before guests arrive. This will stop it frothing over when you are serving it.
- At a Christmas party, don’t lift your glass higher while being served bubbly – a lower glass (and tilted) makes it easier for your host to pour, so you’re likely to end up with more in your glass.