degree mortar boardIt’s the end of June and that means the end of exams. Perhaps you’ve just taken your evening class GCSE or know someone who’s handed in their very last essay. So how do you celebrate should the results prove to be a winner? Well it's got to start with the opening of a bottle of bubbly.

If you insist on champagne as the sparkling wine of choice don't despair if the available cash amounts to less than the usual twenty five pounds and upwards most supermarkets charge for this French fizz. Spar’s Marquis Belrive Champagne (£19.99) knocks spots off the supposedly posher stuff selling at double the price and you may wish you'd bought more when you taste its toasted coconut and lemon sherbet flavours.

cavaSpending under a tenner needn't dampen down the sparkle. Cava, Spain's answer to champagne, sells for around £5 to £8 a bottle. A fiver will get you a bottle of very acceptable lemon and coconut tasting Co-op Cava Brut and if you can spare another two-pounds then try the fresh gooseberry flavours of Codorniu's Cava Clásico Brut available at Winerack.

And to open these bottles of sparkling you’ll need to arm yourself with a tea towel. A vigorously shaken bottle will expel its cork at almost 25 miles per hour. So rather than cause an injury cover the top of the bottle with the tea towel and untwist the wire cage covering the cork.

Remove the cage, and still holding the tea towel over the cork, twist the bottom of the bottle. The bottle should start to twist off the cork.

pouring champagneGradually loosen the cork and let it gently pop out. The tea towel will catch the cork and soak up any wine that fizzes out. Finally, remove the cloth and pour.

PG Wine Tips

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

Co-op sparklingCo-op Cava Brut


Lemon and coconut fizz with a digestive biscuit edge. A very acceptable match to a post-exams picnic.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Codorniu Cava Clasico

£6.99 Winerack

Apple, lemon and almond aromas with gooseberry flavours.

Codorniu Seleccion Raventos

£7.49 Majestic (down from £7.99)

Still the best celebratory fizz around. The blend of Chardonnay, Macabeo and Xarel-lo grapes produces a wine that is amazingly good value at £7.49 (and the price hasn’t changed in four years). Its Opal Fruit (no Starbursts here), lemonade and set-honey flavours make me want to go out and buy the company.

Asda Extra Special Champagne Vintage 2002 Brut


This award winning champagne has so much praise on the label how could it be anything but great? Well it is pretty good. Toasty and well-balanced, a sophisticated fizz.

LansonLanson Black Label Champagne

£19.99 Co-op (down from £29.99 until July 12th), £20 Asda, £20.65 Sainsbury’s (down from £30.99 until July 5th), £24.99 Tesco (down from £29.99 until July 19th)

If you insist on champagne then you’ll find plenty of offers to coincide with the strawberry and fizz frenzy that goes along with Wimbledon fortnight. So try this reliable stand-by with its apple and digestive biscuit flavours. Plus the bubbles are bound to get up your nose.

summer saladSummer is now officially here and with it the hope of sultry days and the need for a cooling drink. So now’s the time to choose chilled whites as these make a good choice for wine lovers looking for refreshment. Cold meats and light vegetarian dishes are a good stand-by on a hot evening and the citrus and buttery smells and taste of white wine make a good match.

Coop logoSummer is now officially here and with it the hope of sultry days and the need for a cooling drink. So now’s the time to choose Co-op own-label chilled whites as these make a good choice for wine lovers looking for refreshment.

rose and glassChoosing a gift for next Sunday's Father's Day is never that easy for sons and daughters, of whatever age. I'm sure you'll not complain when you receive the usual power tool or tankard, but it would be nice to get something rather more personalised wouldn't it? So why not help your children along by dropping subtle hints that a bottle or two of a more unusual choice, a substantial rosé perhaps, would be much appreciated.