One of the things I find most difficult about not drinking is missing out on celebratory Champagne, so over the last few weeks I have been sampling every non-alcoholic fizz I can lay my hands on, in the hope of finding a suitable substitute. I tried twelve that could generously be called wine, as well as a couple that were definitely-not-wine which came in a wine bottle. The latter two were Lloberetta, a perfectly pleasant fizzy passion fruit drink, and Cloudem Blue,
a truly absurd concoction which is bright cyan with iridescent swirls, and tastes of pure e-numbers. There’s definitely a place for it as a ridiculous party drink, but it’s not the Champagne substitute I was looking for.
The majority of the wine-like options fell into two categories. Most of them were about as sweet as your average rosé, which is far too sugary for my tastes. I found it less off-putting in the one that actually was a rosé, because it wasn’t so out of place, but it still wouldn’t be something I’d like to drink regularly. A couple of the others were actually dry enough, doing a passable impression of an inferior Cava, but neither of them was terribly pleasant - they had the distinct carbonic sharpness of a wine made with the soda method and lacking any complexity to distract from it.
Of the remaining three wines, one was a red, which, well, wasn’t the worst sparkling red I’ve tried, but there is a reason that nobody makes them, and that is that they are universally terrible. On Easter Sunday I opened a bottle of Differente Aromatic Cuvée
, which was dramatically better than any of the other ones I’d tried. It was also more expensive than the actual vintage Champagne that everyone else was drinking. And whilst it was good, it wasn’t that
good, and certainly not worth shelling out thirty quid a bottle for on a regular basis.
There was one wine left to try though, which had been out of stock the first time I ordered, appropriately named Win Sparkling
, because ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. It’s still very slightly sweeter than would be perfect, but well within acceptable parameters - on a par with a typical Prosecco, but with more of the biscuity notes that I’d associate with a Champagne. If money were no object I’d still prefer the Differente, which I'll probably treat myself to on special occasions, but the Win comes in at less than a quarter the price, and is very nearly as good.