Everything you wanted to know about English sparkling wine service*

Everything you wanted to know about English sparkling wine service*

*But were too afraid to ask

If ever there were a time to bring out your A-game, it would surely be the holiday season. But when it comes to the finest English sparkling wines, do you sometimes wonder if you’re… doing it right?

From how to properly store your bottles to the art of the pour, there’s more to these fabulous bubbles than first meets the eye. Just in time for the end of year festivities, we’ve rounded up our top insider tips to take you from amateur to seasoned pro. Get ready to surprise guests with your savoir-faire and table etiquette, and if they start asking questions, don’t worry — Your secret is safe with us!

How to store

To ensure your bottles are always ready to be deployed, there a few golden rules to keep in mind. For longer-term storage, keep them lying down on their sides at a stable and cool temperature, ideally in a cellar. Failing that, make sure the spot you choose is nice and dark to preserve those all-important flavours – exposing the bottles to harsh light will literally cook the wine (a big no-no in case you’re wondering!). If you’re just looking to store them for a few days, keep them upright at the bottom of the fridge until you’re ready to serve. The tiny bubbles in sparkling wine are fragile however, so once opened, a cork stopper (like our Hambledon Bottle Stopper) will keep them fresh for two to three days, while a wine cork will stretch your bottle for up to two days. As for that (in)famous spoon trick? Totally inefficient, sadly… Who’s going to tell granny?

How to chill

Fine English sparkling wine simply doesn’t do ‘hot mess’, so to ensure it’s looking and tasting its best, always serve it chilled. Fill an ice bucket halfway with ice and top the other half with water before plunging your bottle in for 30 minutes until it reaches the ideal tasting temperature of 8°C (or 45°F). (Top secret tip: Adding a stealthy teaspoon of salt to the mix will speed things up even more!) Aged wines are more sensitive to the cold however and should be served a little warmer at around 10°C (or 50°F). As for Hambledon’s sparkling wines, we recommend 8-10°C for the Classic and Classic Rosé cuvées, and 11-13°C for the Première Cuvée. Don’t have an ice bucket to hand? Simply give your bottle a short holiday in the fridge for half a day. And whatever you do, bypass the freezer which is far too brutal for your favourite wine’s delicate flavours.

How to open

To serve properly (and with panache!), start by removing the cap foil. Hold the cork down while you undo the wire cage. Keeping your thumb on the cork, hold the bottle at a 45° angle and turn the base of the bottle – Not only will this prevent the cork from going flying and hitting a poor unsuspecting guest, but it also has the distinct advantage of making you look like a consummate pro. The gas escapes and hey presto! Your bottle is open and ready to be poured. Whether you throw in an additional hand flourish or two is entirely up to you.

Which type of glass should I use?

The glass should be high enough for the bubbles to evolve but also wide enough to give the aromas space for expression. Enter, the tulip glass… (Hands up if you didn’t see that one coming.) That being said, you can’t beat a classic flute.

How to pour

To serve your guests perfectly, fill their glasses in several steps to avoid overflow but never more than half. Contrary to popular belief, tipping the glass will not prevent the wine from foaming, so just be sure to serve slowly and evenly. Are you sure you haven’t been doing this your entire life?