BLIND TASTING POPS THE CORK ON THE BATTLE OF THE BUBBLY
English sparkling wines beat French champagne in blind tasting - but lose out when big marketing budgets kick in.
Champagne vs English sparkling wine, which is better? With its long history and its “luxury” factor, you would not be wrong in thinking that champagne is. But what if you were to judge on taste alone, with no preconceptions if you were drinking champagne or English Sparkling Wine? Well our very own Neil Walker, the mastermind behind the English Vine, is currently studying an MSc in Viticulture and Oenology, has conducted a series of comprehensive tastings to test the theory, along with leading academic Dr Heber Rodrigues of Plumpton College and Professor Nicolas Depetris-Chauvin from The Geneva School of Business.
The lucky participants were chosen because they had to like Sparkling wine and were willing to spend £30 on a bottle. In the tasting sessions, they were treated to four French champagnes and four English sparkling wines, of which they didn’t know what was what. Each of the eight wines was presented in a random order and had to fit a strict criteria to make the tasting an even playing field, with all fitting a similar price bracket (£25 to £35), made using the Traditional Method, from the same grapes and they were all Non-Vintage.
In the blind tasting, participants had no idea which wines they were tasting and were simply asked to rate their wines on a sliding scale. Excitedly, in the blind tasting, all but one of the English sparkling wines came out top taking first, second and third position.
But shockingly, when the same participants were given the exact same wines, but were told which were the English Sparkling wines, and which were champagne, only one of the English sparkling wines made it into the top three!
In fact, the well-known French champagne brand (*cough* Veuve-Clicquot *cough*) which came eighth in the blind tasting took top position in the non-blind tasting!
- Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut
- Vueve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut
- Lanson Black Label Brut NV
- Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut NV
Blind tasting results:
- Westwell (338) / (English sparkling wine)
- Nyetimber (329) (English sparkling wine)
- Hambledon (321) (English Sparkling wine)
- Lanson (317) (French champagne)
- Laurent-Perrier (291) (French champagne)
- Ridgeview (278) (English sparkling wine)
- Veuve- Clicquot (273) (French champagne)
- Moët & Chandon (271) (French champagne)
Non-blind tasting results
- Veuve- Clicquot (347) (French champagne)
- Westwell (336) / (English sparkling wine)
- Lanson (332) (French champagne)
- Moët & Chandon (326) (French champagne)
- Laurent-Perrier (321) (French champagne)
- Nyetimber (319) (English sparkling wine)
- Hambledon (311) (English Sparkling wine)
- Ridgeview (267) (English sparkling wine)
- 8 tasting sessions took place in total with a total of 54 participants.
- Tasting sessions took place between 15.10.2020 and 04.11.20.
- Each participant was asked to score their wine out of 9 on a series of different topics.
- The figures used to generate the final score were taken from the main question: “How do you rate this wine out of 9?”