From the ubiquitous pub Prosecco to a posh coupe at a wedding reception, we are all over those bubbles. But how many times do you go to buy a bottle yourself and end up choosing something based on price alone, upping the budget for a special occasion because it’s a name you recognise but not really knowing much about it?
It’s easy to stick to the big Champagne or sparkling wine brands – especially around Christmas and Valentine’s Day when there are so many offers one assumes they must be the best value. However, stray away from the familiar and some of the best-value bottles are from houses you’ve never heard of. But how to know which to choose?
We consulted sommelier Sandia Chang, co-founder of London’s Champagne and hot dog restaurant Bubbledogs, for some expert fizz advice on what’s known as grower Champagne – artisanal, terroir-focused wines by producers using grapes from their own vineyards, rather than buying in from several across the region as the big names tend to.
“Look for ‘RM’ on the label, it stands for Recoltant Manipulant and indicates a grower producer whose wines are made entirely with grapes from their own vineyards. Negocient Manipulant, or ‘NM’, on the other hand, means the wine has come from a large house that sources the majority of its grapes rather than growing them,” says Chang.
“When choosing great-value Champagne or sparkling wines, bear in mind that most of the money large houses charge goes towards their marketing budget. Small growers in Champagne have equal and if not better wines for a lesser price – they care about what goes in your glass.”
So if you’re looking to branch out with your bubbles, scroll through our gallery below for eight lesser-known bottles to try – and toast the fact that they’re all under £30. Perfect.