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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

You're Not Drinking Enough Sparkling Wine

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Neither am I.

Most of us think of sparkling wine only for wedding toasts, for New Year's Eve, and maybe for Valentine's Day. There's actually an excuse for drinking it almost every day!

Why is sparkling wine (aka Champagne) so great? Let us count the ways.

Sparkling wine can be bone dry or can be quite sweet. Most fall into the "off dry" category meaning there's just a little bit of sugar to offset the higher acids in the wine. There's a sparking wine for almost any reason: to celebrate, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, it's hot outside, you're sitting by the fire. There are lots of sparkling wine cocktail recipes. There are rosé and even red sparkling wines.

Food Pairing
There's almost nothing that won't work with sparkling wine. It's especially great paired with something a little spicy or salty. And it's great anywhere you might use a still white wine or anywhere you would consider a beer. You can have it with your salad, with that spicy pasta sauce, and with the chocolate dessert. It's the most versatile of all wines for food pairing.

If a bottle of bubbly shared with other folks won't get you in a good mood then nothing will. 

What to Buy
Real Champagne from the Champagne region of France is the most expensive sparkling wine. Most other ones are quite reasonably priced. In Spain it's called Cava, Prosecco or Asti from Italy, Cremant from other parts of France, and just good ol' sparkling wine from most places in America. A few American producers may call it American Champagne or California Champagne, but it's all the same idea.

What not to Buy
The cheap crap. Cheap sparkling wine can be really awful. Get the stuff that's fermented in the bottle, or Methode Champenoise. The bulk processed, or Charmat is what can give you that headache the next day. I've already made this mistake so you don't have to.

California sparkling wines are mostly great bargains as there are many very good ones priced in the $20 to $45 range. That's a whole lot better than paying $100 for high-end Napa Cabernet. The least expensive good one I've found is a Spanish Cava Brut-style from Freixinet for about ten bucks. I'm sure there are others.

Don't be Afraid
It's not that difficult to open. Just realize it's under pressure so just open slowly. You don't need special champagne glasses. Any glass that's smaller at the top to help keep the bubbles in will be fine. Heck, I've even used those tall, skinny Pilsner beer glasses as a substitute, but don't tell the wine geeks.

This doesn't suck

How to open a bottle of sparkling wine