Best Prosecco and sparkling wine 2019
By Christina Woodger
Fancy a change from champagne? Discover which fizzy wine topped our taste test of prosecco and other sparkling wines
Prosecco can be a delicious, great-value alternative to champagne, but it's not your only option. To find out what's the best champagne alternative this year, we tried out a mixture of sparkling wines for the December 2018 edition of Which? magazine.
We asked supermarkets to nominate a vintage or non-vintage champagne alternative, either own-label or exclusive to them. It had to be brut (dry), white, from any grape or blend, and priced between £7.50 and £20.
Read all about:
- Different sparkling wines explained
- How much sugar's in your wine
- How to pour fizz properly
- Best champagne
- How we tested
Top score in our sparkling wines didn't go to a prosecco. Our top-scoring prosecco came in fourth place.
Only logged in Which? members can view the rest of our results and tasting notes in the table below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the prosecco and sparkling wine on test. To get instant access join Which?.
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 so it dissolves into the wine – so when the bottle is opened, the wine sparkles.
Most champagne is dry and best served after a few hours in the fridge.
Cava, from Spain, is made in the same way as champagne, undergoing secondary fermentation in the bottle. It's usually made from three Catalan grapes: macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada, although 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 often cheaper).
Prosecco is usually slightly sweet or ‘off-dry’, light and delicate, and characterised by citrus and apple notes.
Most people know that 'champagne' is a protected appellation, but did you know that 'prosecco' is too? Any other sparkling wines made from glera grapes (formerly called prosecco), but from outside the Italian designation of origin for prosecco, can’t use the word ‘prosecco’ on the label. Unlike many other fizzes, prosecco completes its secondary fermentation in a pressurised stainless-steel tank
Generally, prosecco is similarly priced to cava and cheaper than champagne.
Franciacorta is made from grapes from Franciacorta in Lombardy. It's drier than prosecco, but fruitier and softer than champagne, and it has distinctive lemony notes.
Crémant is sparkling wine that's made in the same way as champagne (with secondary fermentation) 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
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…
Our expert panel shared some sparkling serving tips to get the best from your fizz, particularly when hosting or attending a yuletide 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.
- Waiting for a refill? 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.
Our wine experts also tasted fifteen champagnes, including nine supermarket own-label and exclusive non-vintage (NV) champagnes and six top-selling big-name champagnes. All were brut (dry) and cost £35 or less.Head over to our best champagne roundup to find out which ones came out top.
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.
Our experts were:
Charles Metcalfe wine taster and co-chair of the International Wine Challenge (IWC)
Kathryn McWhirter wine taster, author and translator
Peter McCombie Master of Wine, speaker, consultant, co-chairman of the IWC
Richard Bampfield Master of Wine, European Champagne Ambassador 2009
Sam Caporn Master of wine, wine consultant, speaker, writer and IWC judge.