We have reached the time of year when reviewers are traditionally asked to cite their favourite holiday, hotel, top ten books or a wish list of suitable CD’s with which to enhance their, or their readers Festive break. The yuletide demands of a wine merchant are paralleled as they are called upon to list the best Bordeaux for turkey, a suitable white wine for smoked salmon or a sweetie for their Christmas pudding. Suspecting that you may well have received all the advice and more from various quarters by now and the knowledge that by the time you have a chance to rest and read this article, all recommendations for the forthcoming culinary onslaught you are about to endure are already in place.

With that in mind, my thoughts turned to reviewing the week ahead and seeking out less aggressive and more recuperative pleasures to perk up those of you wary of an increasingly jaded palette, or enlarging waistline – in short the refreshing and delicate joys of a daily glass or two of sparkling wine.

First out of the stocking would be Champagne. These days no longer the only fizzy on the block, but still a contender for the top spot. Worldwide sparklers are certainly creating greater elegance today, but the complexity, intensity and length of flavour found in fine Champagne has rare competition. That coupled with the brioche, biscuity and yeasty flavours generated from ageing on lees (the dead yeast cells) and the toasted nutty nuances gained from the Chardonnay grape as it gently matures alongside the luscious raspberry fruit emanating from its partner Pinot Noir, offer a world beating combination.

However, additions and alternatives abound.

For those seeking a somewhat sweeter kick, the naturally Frizzante style of Moscato d’Asti from Northern Italy or a grown-up Lambrusco from the tiny coterie of designated villages within Emilia Romagna would fit the bill. For Italy’s drier offering, search out the gently moussed, water-white refreshment of a quality Prosecco; a joyous mid-morning slurp with fruited Panettone cake.

From North-Eastern Spain comes the eponymous Cava for those seeking a mid-range dry yet savoury style, often offering supreme quality at a customer-pleasing bargain price. Additionally it is worth keeping an eye out for the more weighty, vintage releases from market leaders such as Freixenet and Juvé y Camps which can often provide far more elegant and intense wines than lesser Champagnes sold at nearly twice the price.

Meanwhile a whole breed of Sparkling wines from the New World, has begun to cause the Champenoise more than a little concern over the past few years.

It is undeniable that great strides have been made by certain wineries in New Zealand, Australia and the USA (although unsurprisingly many of these sparkling wine producers are working in conjunction with world-renowned French Champagne houses.)

If you’re looking for something with obvious, tropical rambutan and lychee fruit you could do worse than a mid-priced kiwi fizzy. For a more substantial tipple, Pelorus, from the Cloudy Bay boys or New Zealand’s greatest bottle fermented sparkling wine from the Rapaura region, Nautilus Cuvée Marlborough, are excellent examples.

From Australia comes almost a glut these days of admirably cheap and cheerfully fruity white fizzies although those seeking a greater proximity to Champagne, would be rewarded with some Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blends from the relatively cooler climes of Southern Victoria or the Adelaide Hills. A surprise entry for me recently was the discovery that a sparkling red Shiraz from S E Australia served almost iced-cold, was that long-searched for partner to Chinese and Indian cuisine, take-a-ways that often prove more than popular after a glut of local game birds at this point in the festivities.

From the USA sparkling wine from the Napa Valley offer sophisticated lean fruit flavours with that creamy depth common to many vintage Champagnes and the cooler micro-climates in the state of Oregon now produce gorgeous fizzies via a joint venture with Laurent Perrier. Iron Horse from Sonoma and Taittinger’s Domaine Carneros, North of Napa are well worth a glug

Finally if the byword is a quiet seasonal respite alone with a loved-one, do not forget the romantic inspiration that a pink Champagne can generate.

Should the budget not stretch that far, fall back as I do on the glorious Southern French invention of a Kir Royal – a hint of Crème de Cassis, traditionally mixed with a flute of Champagne, but easily supplanted with a full-bodied, but less expensive sparkling white – a mid morning sharpener if ever there was one.