There’s nothing quite like a traditional afternoon tea: a deliciously varied spread of treats on offer from a beautifully laid cake stand. But what if we want to take this beloved English pastime up a sparkling notch? With such a variety of sandwiches, scones and cakes it can be difficult to know which wines to choose that will complement the general spread – so we’ve picked a selection of food and English wines to throw a wonderful sparkling afternoon tea.
THE SANDWICHES – RICH AND BOLD
Try opening with classic English fizz such as the Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Brut with aromas of citrus fruit, red apple and freshly baked bread, or perhaps a Blanc de Blancs like that from Bluebell Vineyard, with buttery brioche, honeycomb and citrus on the palate.
Choose big flavours for sandwiches that will pair well with the acidity of sparkling wine: salty charcuterie meats such as prosciutto or serrano ham; a strong flavoured fish like crab or smoked salmon; a soft or hard cheese such as Manchego or Brie; and include a veggie option to finish the spread, such as roasted vegetable or avocado.
THE SCONES – GO BERRY PINK
A visual match as well as a lovely flavour pairing, choose a pink-tinted sparkling rosé to complement strawberry scones, try: the Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Pinot Noir Rosé Brut with floral and strawberry aromas; or Hush Heath Balfour Brut Rosé with a rich palate of spice, raspberry and hints of vanilla.
Pair your freshly baked scones and sparkling rosé with some juicy English strawberries. To spritz up your scones, add a dollop of strawberry jam that has a hint of Champagne – the flavours combine perfectly to give the traditional scone an exciting twist. Finish with a scoop of Cornish clotted cream for ultra-indulgence.
THE CAKES – LIGHT AND ZESTY
For the sweetest part of the afternoon tea, take a sip of the Denbies Demi-Sec with aromas of brioche and pear, an underlying honeysuckle quality and a sweet apple finish on the palate. Alternatively, finish on an English award-winner: the Nyetimber Classic Cuvée is one that rivals the big names in Champagne, with complex aromas of honey, almond, pastry and baked apple flavours.
Choose desserts that are zesty, creamy and light. Keep your desserts on the mini side so you can fit in more variety! Try a spread of treats like lemon shortcake, white chocolate blondies, passionfruit cheesecakes, crème brûlée bars, raspberry mousse pies and clotted cream shortbread.
Photo: Ciara Champagne flutes from Mikasa.