You are using an old browser that may not function as expected.
For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.

Log in Become a Member

On a statistical average, every German citizen drinks around 3.7 litres or 5 bottles of sparkling wine annually. Most of the sparkling wines consumed come from a few large wineries that bottle their products under various brand names and sell them mainly through food retailers (LEH) and discount markets. The price range for sparkling wines from food retailers and discounters is much wider than for still wines. It starts at just under 2 euros and ends at around 13 euros for sparkling wine. For champagne, the price is sometimes even higher: the most expensive bottle we bought cost well over 30 euros.

Everything that foams

But how good are these wines, often produced in editions of millions, really? Does the quality of the wines really depend on the price and do the qualities of champagne really meet expectations? These are questions that every consumer and lover of the sparkling stuff has probably asked himself at least once. In a large blind tasting, Wein-Plus obtained a comprehensive overview, at least of the sparkling wines available in southern Germany from the major retail chains.

The results are sobering. Even without making high demands, a significant part of the branded sparkling wines offered in Germany, most of the house brands of the discounters and even some expensive champagnes have to be rated "poor", not infrequently "insufficient", in terms of quality. The tasting results were almost completely independent of the price of the wines. Thus, the most expensive sparkling wines of the sample apart from the champagnes, the Crimean sparkling wines "Krimskoye" from the Artemovsker winery, turned out to be at the same time among the most unclean of the whole selection. The wines were all faulty and can no longer be recommended by any stretch of the imagination.

Krimskoye: among the winners only in price

But German sparkling wine brands don't exactly cover themselves with glory either. That the cheap brand "Schloss Königstein" would not win any laurels could possibly be expected at a price of 1.99 euros a bottle (even though this price is clearly too high for what is on offer), but the products of the well-known brands from Henkell to Deinhard and Kupferberg to Mumm are also unsatisfactory and the wines are sometimes also so unclean that one would not want to recommend their consumption to even the most unpretentious sparkling wine drinker with a clear conscience.

The picture is somewhat better with cava. Although there are also poor wines here, the products from Freixenet are at least partly passable and those from Codorniu are even good to very good. The latter are among the few branded sparkling wines tasted that are actually worth their money. On the other hand, we were not very impressed with the own brands of the retail chains.

Well-known German sparkling wine brands

The picture is also mixed when it comes to champagne. Although the average quality was clearly higher than for the other sparkling wines, the individual results of many well-known names are not at all satisfactory, not to mention the private labels. The winner here is Veuve Clicquot, which we haven't seen in such good shape for a long time, followed by the Grande Reserve Téte de Cuvée from Vranken, which at 15.99 is also one of the cheapest Champagnes in the test. The rosé "Bricout" from Vranken and the Heidsieck "Blue Top" (in contrast to the very weak "Red Top") were also very good, while all the other brands were disappointing. Among the discounters, the Vve. Monsigny from Aldi and the Comtesse Marie-Louise from Penny are tied at the top of the list, but one wonders why one should spend 12.59 euros for just such a good champagne when one can get excellent sparkling wine for the money - or for a few euros more with the Vranken, a champagne that really tastes like good champagne.

It was noticeable that the sweeter the wines, the poorer the quality in general. Apparently, people believe that they can make gross impurities and faults unrecognisable with the residual sugar. Hardly any of the sparkling wines tasted had real fruit, substance or even depth, but as the residual sugar increases, the wines usually seem even thinner and the taste even more artificial than already.

No matter what the language - dry is clearly sweet

The designations for the residual sugar of sparkling wines are extremely confusing for the consumer. Sparkling wine and champagne only taste really dry if "brut", "extra brut" or the explicit reference to the absence of any dosage is written on the label. "Extra dry", regardless of the language, already implies a semi-sweet taste, "trocken" or "dry" is clearly sweet and then with "halbtrocken" or "lieblich" it only ever gets sweeter. There is obviously the view that the normal consumer would like to have "dry" on the label, but would by no means want to drink dry sparkling wine. The situation becomes stupid for anyone who trusts the information but actually wants dry wine.

So it is not easy for anyone who is looking for the right sparkling wine for every occasion in the grocery store or at the discounter. Those who have high expectations are usually at the wrong address anyway, but even those who are only looking for simple, but at least clean qualities, have to look around carefully. On top of that, very few of the sparkling wines on offer are really worth the money. What good is the lowest price if the quality cannot even satisfy minimum demands?

What you should bear in mind when buying and storing sparkling wine:

Wine, especially sparkling wine, is extremely sensitive to light. Even a few days in a shop window or under fluorescent light can have a lasting effect on the taste.


Therefore, never buy a wine that has been exposed to direct sunlight.


Avoid bottles that have already collected dust on the shelf.


Whenever possible, use bottles with outer cartons.


If there are unpacked bottles in the original carton next to the shelf, take a wine from the carton, not from the shelf.


Always store your sparkling wine in a cool, dark place. Never leave it by the window, near the heating or in the kitchen.


Only buy as much as you will consume within a short period of time. Sparkling wine is generally ready to drink from the moment of release and in most cases will only change to its detriment

The following are the wines that we can really recommend - regardless of price - because of their quality:

Grade excellent:

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne brut, 32.99

Gradevery good:

Codorniu Cava seco, 5.49
Kesseler Hochgewächs Brut, 10.49
Vranken Champagne Grande Réserve Téte de Cuvée brut, 15.99
Heidsieck Monopole Champagne brut "Blue Top", 18.99
Vranken Champagne brut "Bricourt" rosé, 19.99

Grade good:

"Waldenhoff" Riesling sparkling wine extra dry, 3.49 (Lidl)
"Erlenbrunn" Riesling sparkling wine extra dry, 3.49 (Aldi)
Codorniu Cava semi seco, 5.49
Lanson Champagne brut "Black Label", 21.99

For low demands still come into question:

Grade neat:

Santero Spumante dolce, 2.15 (Penny)
Schloss Gutenberg German sparkling wine extra dry, 2.49 (Plus)
MM extra German sparkling wine dry, 2.99
Friedrichshöhe 2004 Riesling German sparkling wine extra dry, 3.49 (Penny)
Rotkäppchen German sparkling wine medium sweet, 3.79
Rotkäppchen German sparkling wine semi-dry, 3.79
Feist Riesling sparkling wine extra dry 2005, 3,79
Freixenet Cava Rotiña Cava, 5,39
Vve. Monsigny Champagne brut Sélection, 12.59 (Aldi)
Comtesse Marie-Louise Champagne brut, 12.59 (Penny)
Moët & Chandon Champagne brut Imperial, 29.99
Moët & Chandon Champagne brut Imperial rosé, 33.99

The tasting took place on 13 and 14 December in the tasting room of Wein-Plus in Erlangen. The wines were tasted blind and according to sugar levels. The tasters were not aware of the origin of the wines, the source of purchase or the price of the products. Also part of the tasting were sparkling wines from various European countries, which were sent to us directly by the producers. The results of these wines can be read in the Wein-Plus wine guide.


Marcus Hofschuster

Chief taster Wein-Plus

Karl Bajano
Oenologist, taster Wein-Plus

Moritz Lüke
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Viticulture and Oenology, Taster Wein-Plus

The results are sorted according to the source of purchase:

50-59 points: insufficient, with severe to most severe faults
60-69 points: unsatisfactory, unclean to faulty
70-74 points: passable/sufficient, but with clear weaknesses
75-79 points: fair to good, free of errors, clean
80-84 points: very good, harmonious and typical
85-89 points: excellent, very typical, with depth and character

Note: all wines published here were purchased by employees of Wein-Plus GmbH in Erlangen branches of the retail chains indicated. Even though we bought goods directly from the packaging wherever possible, in individual cases damage to the wines caused by incorrect storage in the shop (for example, by standing in direct fluorescent light for too long) cannot be ruled out.

Related Magazine Articles

View All