Nairobi News


Guide: How to pick the perfect bubbly for your holiday toasts

By Hilary Kimuyu December 8th, 2023 3 min read

‘Tis the season for holiday parties—and we say there’s nothing more festive than popping open a bottle of bubbly. But how do you choose the perfect one?

Although we are talking about the bubbling elegance of South African Méthode Cap Classique, the country has gone through some dark times in recent years.

There were prohibitions on the sale of alcohol during the pandemic, taps were running dry, then came load shedding. How is the industry fairing currently?

“The impact of alcohol trade bans and disruptions in South Africa during the Covid-19 have led to stock levels increasing sharply in 2020 and 2021 due to a lack of, have since reduced substantially to an acceptable level in 2022,” says Wines of South Africa Market Manager Matome Mbatha.

He adds that amid the ongoing attempts to clear stocks and rebalance the market, a far higher-than-ideal portion of wine was exported in bulk format in 2022 including wine for other purposes.

According to Mbatha, the impact of load shedding also exacerbated increases in input costs with farms having to make provision for generators for production and running of the cellars. “These are challenges we remain in faith that our government will address soon.”

What is Cap Classique? What’s the difference between Cap Classique, Champagne, and Prosecco?

Cap Classique is South African Bottle fermented sparkling wine same style as Champagne and we can’t call it champagne because of geographical location.

Champagne is also a Bottle fermented sparkling wine made from Champagne in France while Preseco is an Italian version of sparkling wine.

How to Choose your Cap Classique:

Understand the Varieties:

Brut: Dry sparkling wine with minimal sweetness.

Brut Nature/Zero Dosage: Bone-dry with no added sugar.

Extra Brut: Very dry with a touch more sweetness than Brut.

Sec: Off-dry with a hint of sweetness.

Demi-Sec: Sweet sparkling wine, suitable for desserts or as an aperitif.

Explore Producers:

South Africa has a growing reputation for producing high-quality Cap Classique, and there are now over 259 different producers.

Vintage vs. Non-Vintage:

Vintage Cap Classique is made from grapes harvested in a specific year, showcasing the characteristics of that particular vintage. Non-vintage blends wines from different years for consistency.

Consider the Grape Varieties:

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Chenin Blanc are commonly used in Cap Classique production. Each grape contributes distinct flavours.

Read Reviews and Recommendations:

Seek reviews from reputable sources or ask for recommendations from wine experts or friends who have experience with South African sparkling wines.

Serving Cap Classique:

Chill to the Right Temperature:

Serve Cap Classique chilled but not too cold—around 7-9°C for optimal enjoyment.

Use the Right Glassware:

Choose flutes or tulip-shaped glasses to preserve the bubbles and concentrate the aromas.

Opening the Bottle:

Open the bottle with a gentle twist, ensuring minimal disturbance to the wine. Hold the cork and turn the bottle to open slowly. If you know your stuff, you can sabrage!


Tilt the glass and pour the Cap Classique along the side to preserve the bubbles. Aim for a moderate pour to avoid spillage.

Pairing with Food:

Cap Classique pairs well with a variety of foods. For example, a Brut works well with appetizers, while a slightly sweeter Sec or Demi-Sec complements desserts or as aperitif. Savour the wine, noting its aromas, flavours, and effervescence.

Remember that personal preferences play a significant role in choosing the perfect Cap Classique, so don’t hesitate to explore different styles to find the one that suits your taste and the occasion.

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is hosting its third Cap Classique Celebration in Mombasa showcasing different Cap Classique brands.

We are targeting trade, media and key consumers in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu and Taveta.

This year’s event is at Tamarind Mombasa on December 13, 2023 with two events.