For people who care about their food

Ukrainian “Sham”-pagne

by Mr Not Delia

Yesterday morning our cleaner appeared at the door unexpectedly, ostensibly on other business, but as she was leaving she did the Columbo “Just one more thing…” trick and asked if I’d like to buy two bottles of Ukrainian booze off her.

One was a bottle of Sovyetskoye Shampanskoye (“Soviet Champagne”) and the other was a bottle of mint-flavoured Ukrainian vodka. I thought, “Why not?”, and duly handed over the money – just over £7 for the fizz, about £11.50 for the vodka.

We decided to try the fizz today. I tried the first sip, and was a bit taken aback by it. “Erm, it’s different,” I told Not Delia. She took a sip, and after she’d finished coughing and spluttering told me that I could finish the bottle.

My Ukrainian isn’t what it might be, but I think it’s supposed to be dry. It’s hard to tell, really – it certainly isn’t sweet, but it’s quite fruity. Apparently the various versions of Soviet Champagne still under production in the former USSR are made primarily with the Chardonnay and the Aligoté grapes. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never had wine made with Aligoté before, but Wikipedia says it’s got a lot of apple and lemon notes. That’s true enough. It’s much more up-front than Western European sparkling wines, apart from Asti, perhaps.

It improves as you get through the bottle. (Trust me on this one – I’m down to the fifth glass, so that’s one left to go.) But I have a nasty feeling I may be left with a sore head tomorrow, although in all honesty I often find that Champagne can taste a bit oxidised, which this stuff doesn’t. I’m just hoping I’m still compos mentis in six hours’ time when Blues take on Arsenal in the League Cup Final. (And if Blues lose, then at least it’ll not take so long to drown my sorrows.)

Will I finish the bottle? Yes. Would I buy it again? Not if better options were available.

I’ll leave the mint vodka for another occasion. And since ND’s the vodka drinker in this household, she can take on the task of reviewing it. 😈

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