Lots of stuff in the news at the moment about how Brits are deserting Champagne for Prosecco, Cava and other cheaper fizzes. Not much of a surprise that, since most of us aren't awash with cash at the mo. But Prosecco and Cava are for me rather different beasts. Bog-standard Cava can be remarkably good, perfect stuff to practise your sabrage on, but it suffers from an image problem - suggest to someone that they spend £25 on a bottle of Champagne and they'll say, OK. Suggest that they fork out the same amount for Cava and they'll start spluttering. As for Prosecco, for me it's the Pinot Grigio of the wine world. Terrific examples of both exist, but the wines that are currently swelling the sales figures are about as dynamic as Duffy's dancing.
And Champagne... It's the annual Champagne tasting this week, which I find a bit of an ordeal. There's nothing too badly wrong with the wines (apart from their marketing-fuelled prices) but it's dominated by the major brands, with only a handful of growers on show. I'm giving it a miss this year, partly because I can't go to every tasting, but also because last year's event left a bad taste in my mouth.
It's also one of the most physically demanding tastings of the year. What all the multi-million pound ad campaigns never tell you is the combination of acidity and bubbles not only provides a stiff dental assault, but also has an effect lower down the digestive system, even for those spitting it all out. What chances are there for the region of having a new slogan of 'Champagne - it gives you wind'?