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Wednesday, December 16, 2009


We don't understand sparkling wine well because if we did we'd all be drinking a lot more bubbly.

Is sparkling wine just for:
-- New Years
-- Weddings
-- Major celebrations like job promotions, anniversaries?


What is a sparkling wine?

Sparkling wine and Champagne are the same. Champagne is sparkling wine from that district in France. Sparkling wine is more acidic than still wine and so has a bit of sugar added back in at the end of it's creation for a touch of sweetness to balance out the acids. The acid is what makes sparklers go so well with most foods.

Sparkling wine is different

OK, part of the problem is that sparkling wine is a bit confusing. Blame it on the French. :) After all, what's a cuvee or a dosage? (Pronounced doh-SAHJ just to add to the confusion). And when you're shopping an Extra Dry is actually kind of sweet; a Brut is much drier.

Also, opening a bottle of bubbly is a bit different. I've seen someone purposely try to shoot the cork out of a magnum of sparkling wine for distance -- it went a long way! Also, a few years ago, a winery to remain nameless was sued by a guy who damaged an eye opening a bottle. Apparently it wasn't the first bottle of the night. It can be a dangerous weapon--point it down range!

What food to serve with a sparkling wine

Question: What kind of wine goes with the salad course?
Answer: Either a sparkler or just have water.

The slightly sweet sparkling wines go well with desserts, plus fruits and nuts. With any rich food the acids in a sparkler will help cut through that richness.

Traditional pairings are sparkling wines with strawberries, with strong cheeses (such as Brie), and with chocolates, but there's so much more. Seafood, pastas, many spicy dishes, and salty foods are often better with a bubbly than with the usual still wines paired with them.

Chinese food and Gew├╝rztraminer or beer? Try a bottle of bubbly!

Crab cakes and sparkling wine? A favorite! A very romantic pairing. To be ended with chocolate and sparkling wine, of course,

A nice bottle of bubbly makes any meal special.

California sparkling wine suggestions

Prices, for California wines anyway, are low for good quality sparklers. In Sonoma, Gloria Ferrer is one of the best for quality and price. Iron Horse and "J" Wineries are also outstanding. The best California sparklers come from Schramsberg in Napa Valley. They put on a great tour and tasting if you're ever in the neighborhood.

For a good $20 Brut try one of these from Sonoma, Napa or Mendocino County: Gloria Ferrer, as mentioned, plus Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Mumm, Piper Sonoma, and Roederer.

BTW, I just picked up a Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs for $17 at the local market.

Celebrate Every Day!