There’s nothing quite like champagne to add fizz to an occasion and your wedding reception deserves nothing but the best.
Champagne however is expensive, and in these tough economic times not everyone can afford to splash out on $50 a bottle.
The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to the French sparkling wine which won’t drain your bank account.
Why not try a prosecco from Italy or a cava from Spain? These sparklers can bring a festive feel to the celebration without the hefty price tag.
If you want the best however, champagne has a prestige and glamour which is hard to match.
Associated with French kings, it symbolizes luxury, success and power.
Champagne is made from Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot meunier grapes grown in the Champagne region of northeast France.
The region is small and exclusive, and no sparkling wine made outside its boundaries can be classed as such.
It is produced according to strict regulations in a labour-intensive process involving secondary fermentation.
Michael Robinson, director of wine at Burrows Lightbourn, said: “Marie Antoinette designated champagne as the wine of coronations and since that time it has been associated with special celebrations.
“You can get sparkling wines made the same way from the same grape varieties but there is a prestige about champagne.
“It is about budgets at the end of the day. Champagne costs between $50 and $100 per bottle and it will continue to rise in price as it’s produced in such a limited area. The vineyards of Champagne are only two per cent of all the vineyards planted in France, in terms of acreage.”
He added: “Sales are currently flying in the BRIC countries, in places like Russia and China.”
Champagne is not only associated with upward mobility but with weddings.
“People like the thought of bubbles — it’s festive, sparkling and fun,” said Mr Robinson.
“I am often asked to recommend a good champagne and my stock answer is that all champagne is good. It is all made to a high quality and strict government regulations.
“A lot of it comes down to individual taste and which particular brand you like.
“Most champagnes are non-vintage — not made from a particular year — but are a blend, a cuvee, of different vintages. So they have a house style.
“Champagne is also very good with food as it cleans your palate
“If you want champagne at your wedding, you can get about six glasses from a bottle, so if you had 60 guests you would have to budget for about 10 bottles.
“Or you could choose a nice Italian prosecco or Californian sparkling wine which is made the same way, for a third of the price.
“But many people have champagne at their wedding for the prestige of it and knowing they have a fine sparkling wine.
“There are millions of tiny bubbles in a bottle of champagne, which brings a delicate taste to the tongue.”
He added that pink (rose) champagne is becoming more popular.
“We sell as much rose champagne now in a month as we did in a year five or six years ago. The most popular rose in the world is Laurent Perrier’s Cuvee Rose.
“I think rose champagnes are better because they are softer and rounder, and usually have more depth of flavour.
“Among champagnes, I think one of the best in the world is Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve.”
Mr Robinson said: “Many sparkling wines are made in the same way as champagne and are comparable in quality. For example, Schramsberg Brut, from California, was what (US) President Nixon took to China in 1972 for the ‘Toast to peace’.
“You pay more for champagne because it is better produced and more complex. But there is a lot of competition out there among the better-made sparkling wines.
“If you are looking for a champagne or sparkling wine for your wedding, myself and the Burrows Lightbourn staff will be happy to assist.”