Fizz. Bubbles. Sparkles. The words themselves bring a sense of joy, the wines even more so. The pinpricks of effervescence dotted through a satin tapestry as it dances across your tongue ... at this time of year, nothing suffices but the best.
These wines are celebrations, yet across a wide spectrum. There is much depth in the sparkling category these days, and plenty of fun to be had outside the norm.
In Australia, we're blessed with forward-thinking vignerons and unencumbered by strict geographical and varietal rules. This has resulted in a swathe of wines that guarantee a good time while making friends with your bank balance.
Abroad, a further host of deliciousness awaits, crowned, of course, by champagne. Never forget champagne – but don't ignore the upstarts baying at its heels either.
The list below provides something sparkling for every occasion – thirst included.
1. House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2001, blend of vineyards, Tasmania, $130.
Available: Dan Murphy's
The final word in Australian ''traditional method'' sparkling wine. Grilled hazelnuts, toast, honey, candied citrus rind and vanilla parfait. Complexity to burn (thanks to 10years' lees ageing), grace and power in one sublime package. Not cheap, yet still manages to be a bargain.
Drink with loved ones.
2. Gembrook Hill Blanc de Blancs 2009, Yarra Valley, Victoria, $65.
Available: Cloudwine Cellars, South Melbourne; Ultimo Wine Centre, Sydney.
One of Victoria's benchmark sparkling wines, this 100per cent chardonnay spends four years on lees before release. It has a super-fine bead and a savoury yet vivacious flavour spectrum that includes green apple, nougat and lime. No oak is used, which lets the racy fruit shine – succulent and somewhat pithy, finishing bone dry.
Drink with scallops with lemongrass.
3. 2008 Courabyra 805, Tumbarumba, New South Wales, $45.
Available: Courabyra online store, courabyrawines.com
A pinot noir-dominant blend from one of the trendiest cool-climate viticultural regions in Australia, Tumbarumba, this spent three-and-a-half years on lees and was disgorged in November 2011. It walks a fine line between toast and freshness, and does so with impeccable style. Courabyra is one of a small number of NSW producers producing exceptionally high-quality sparkling wine and is to be applauded.
Drink with grilled prawns with finger lime.
4. Castagna Allegro Sparkling Rosé, Beechworth, Victoria.
Available: Melbourne Wine House, Southbank; Moncur Cellars, Woollahra, NSW
Julian Castagna produces stunning wines from his small patch of earth in Beechworth, Victoria. This is made from biodynamic shiraz, and spends three years on lees. It delivers a savoury, yeasty backbone, from which gossamer threads of cherry and apricot are draped over and spun into a gently spiced weave of precise flavours that are sheer pleasure to drink.
Drink with tuna cooked in miso.
5. Fairbank Ancestral Sparkling Rosé 2014, Bendigo, Victoria, $38.
Available: Blackhearts & Sparrows, Melbourne; The Oak Barrel, Sydney
A Frenchman in Victoria – of course he was going to make something that reminded him of home. But sangiovese with a splash of viognier, merlot and shiraz thrown in for good measure? This is a truly cosmopolitan and multicultural blend. Typically Australian, non? Cranberry, sour cherry and apricot notes all jostle with sweet spices. Very drinkable.
Drink with smoked salmon and pickles.
6. Fletcher Per Ella 2010, King Valley, Victoria, $39.
Available: Wine Republic, Fitzroy, Vic; Australian Wine Centre, Sydney
David Fletcher is a Victorian living in Piedmont (lucky boy). Before he left, he made a few wines from nebbiolo, the main grape of his new home, including this sparkling wine. Now, sparkling nebbiolo, made as a white wine, is not the most common of beasts. But this manages to defy any preconceptions of bitterness or harshness, with a silken mousse and a gorgeous array of red fruits.
Drink with beef tartare.
7. The Other Right White Young Thing 2014, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, $30.
Available: Blackhearts & Sparrows, Melbourne; Oak barrel, NSW
This style of low fizz naturally sparkling wine – petillant naturel (or pet nat for those in the know) – is an excellent choice for summer. High on drinkability and with a soft, pillowy texture, this is sparkling wine for immediate drinking.
Drink with fried chicken
8. PaB Lambrusco 2014 – Mildura, Victoria, $28.
Available: Dan Murphy's stores; The Oak Barrel, Sydney
Lambrusco is a much-maligned beast, yet the principle is sound – a high-acid red grape given the extra level of refreshment from refermentation, resulting in a sparkling wine with plenty of flavour. The trick seems to be not having too much sugar – this ticks the boxes. Throw in the best retro wine label you've ever seen ... spot on.
Drink with cured meats
9. Domaine Lucci Blanc de Blancs Petillant Naturel 2014, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, $35.
Available: The Oak Barrel, Sydney, Blackhearts and Sparrows, Vic
This is a slightly wild sparkling made from early-picked chardonnay with no chemical additions, including sulphur. From high in the Adelaide Hills, this is fresh, fun and juicy, just the thing come summer. Enlivening in its freshness, a pure joy to drink.
Drink with mussels and chips.
10. Colet-Navazos Extra Brut 2010, Penedes, Spain, $65.
Available: Prince Wine Store, South Melbourne; Five Way Cellars, Paddington, NSW
A collaboration between Cava house Colet and sherry iconoclasts Equipo Navazos, this is made from local grape variety xarel-lo and topped up with dry sherry. It's nutty, salty, smoky, with the smell of a freshly opened oyster and the breeze off the ocean. Daringly different and a ride worth taking.
Drink with white anchovies and olives.
11. Drusian Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV, Veneto, Italy, $35.
Available: 121 BC, Surry Hills, NSW; City Wine Shop, Vic
Prosecco is commonly grapey, sweet and simple. It can often be damn boring. Not here, where the Drusian family hand-picks every grape and crafts a fresh, fragrant and refreshing quaffer. From the hills of Valdobbiadene, an area that produces someof the finest prosecco.
Drink with prosciutto and rockmelon.
12. Cantillon Kriek – Brussels, Belgium $33.
Available: Slowbeer, Richmond, Vic; Beer Cartel, Artarmon, NSW
All that sparkles is not wine. This is a beer, but perhaps not as you know it. The Cantillon brewery has sat in Brussels since 1900, fermenting beers using only the wild yeasts from the surrounding air. For their kriek, they add 300 grams per litre of wild cherries to the brew. These add an additional hit of acidity, and the most incredible colour. Closer to wine than a beer, and probably the most refreshing drink in thislist.
Drink with roasted beetroot salad, heavy on the dressing.
13. Jerome Prevost Champagne La Closerie Les Beguines NV, Champagne, France, $180.
Available: Five Ways Cellars, Vic; United Cellars, Darlinghurst, NSW
Pinot meunier is the often-overlooked member of the group of three main Champagne grapes, but it can produce wines of stunning intensity and flavour. This wine proves that. Sleek and muscular, it charms with notes of blackberry and cinnamon.
Drink with rare roasted quail with white pepper.
14. Marguet Pere et Fils Grand Cru 2006,Champagne, France, $60.
Available: Nick's Wine Merchants, Doncaster East, Vic; or online at nicks.com.au
Insane value – a classically blended champagne, from a great vintage, from organically tended and hand-harvested grapes. Notes of candied lemon and cashew nut are followed by a pillowy mousse and flavours of shortbread and vanilla.
Drink with roast chicken with preserved lemon.
Get ready for party season with this exclusive reader offer. Dan Murphy's wine experts, in partnership with Good Food, have selected six bottles of champagne, sparkling wine and prosecco. Purchase this bundle for $115 (excluding delivery).
A by Aras Premium Cuvee NV
Champagne Duperrey Premier Cru Brut NV France
Sieur d'Arques Grande Cuvée 1531 de Aimery NV France
Petaluma Croser NV
Santa Margherita Superiore 52 Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Italy
Mionetto Luxury Prosecco Treviso Brut DOC Italy