FIZZY DRINKS were a bit of a novelty in Ireland until the arrival of the Sodastream in the late 1970s.
Grown-ups didn’t fare all that much better, given how expensive Champagne was in those days.
Ireland has the second highest tax on wine in the EU, but is unique in Europe by charging double excise duty on sparkling wine, making us by far the most expensive country in which to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Such exorbitant taxes for sparkling wine may have made sense when Champagne was almost the only fizz available, but in a world of inexpensive sparklers from every wine region, such a high tax rate amounts to little more than a punitive tax on fun.
Sparkling wine is defined in relation to the pressure in the bottle so the only fizz that is easy to find under €10 is Prosecco which often counts as a still wine.
For full fizz Prosecco look out for bottles with a full wire cage around the cork.
Be warned however that tank-fermented wines like Prosecco (despite their peachy fresh fizz) will never hold their bubbles like a bottle-fermented wine such as Cava or Champagne.
Most of the prices on the wines mentioned below are special offers that expire on Jan 1 which is also when most outlets will be adding the extra €1 from this year’s budget decision.
Win under €10
Lunetta Spumante Rosé NV — €8.00
Lovely onion skin/salmon colour, fresh clean aromas with a hint of raspberries and citrus. Red currant touches on first taste with reasonable fizz and a light tangy red fruit and apple skin finish.
Contestoro Cava NV — €8.99
Admirably inexpensive and tasty Cava from Aldi and one of the best full fizz wines I’ve tasted under €10. Creamy Lemon with hints of lime zest, good fizz with a pleasant creamy palate and a zingy finish.
Cotes de Jura €9.49
This Crément du Jura is Chardonnay based and fermented in an attractively shaped bottle. Melons and lemons on the nose with a good mousse and a soft palate. Tasty.
Win under €20
Griffith Park Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine, Australia, €13.99
Fresh biscuity aromas with a hint of marzipan. Soft fruity off-dry palate with flavours of green apples and hints of tropical fruit and a creamy finish.
Zonin Prosecco Spumante NV — €12 (normally €15)
Classic peaches and flower aromas on the nose. Initially the palate is hit with sweet pears followed by more floral touches and on to a reasonably dry lime-zest and peach finish.
Comte de Brismand Champagne NV — €17.99
Most Champagne under €20 is not worth the trouble, but Lidl’s offering has some lively aromas that reminded me of preserved lemons and almond biscotti, with a decent rounded palate and a lemony finish.
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