Add Some Sparkle To Your Life


When most people think of sparkling wine they think of champagne or some of the lesser-quality imitators of the fine French bubbly. However, while champagne does indeed refer only to sparkling wine grown in the Champagne region of France and made in accordance with the Comite Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne regulations, it doesn’t mean that all other similarly made wines pale, so to speak, in comparison. There are some very fine sparkling wines made in the champagne tradition from every corner of the globe (well almost every corner) and these bubbly libations are worth tasting for their unique characteristics and not simply as a substitute for the frothy French variety of sparkly.

The process of getting the bubbles into the wine to make it a sparkling wine comes from the natural fermentation of the grape. Some lesser quality sparkling wines inject carbon dioxide into the wines but we’ll leave those wines out of the conversation so as to present those that best represent the best of their region. When wine is fermented in the bottle the method used to make it a sparkling wine is called methode champenoise, and when it is done in larger tanks it is called the Chamat process. In either case the result is a tasty and refreshing wine that is best served chilled. Most sparkling wines are white or rose but there are others that are reds.

Here are some very good examples of quality sparkling wines that you might want to try in addition to your favorite bottle of champagne. No one is trying to lure you away from champagne. A fine French sparkling wine is a thing of beauty and elegance for sure but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a few different bottles in your wine cooler to be popped on the next special occasion.

Schramsberg -  2005 J. Schram Point Cellar Selection $95 – Schramsberg is one of my favorite California wineries. In addition to their many fine white and red wines they also carry many varieties of sparkling wine made in the “methode champenoise” and not all of which cost $95. However, the 2005 Point Cellar Selection does cost $95 and for good reason, like a good divorce it’s worth it. The aroma is fresh and bright with green apple, ripe grapefruit and pineapple with subtle nuances of lemon custard, creme brulee and toasted hazelnut. This is a wonderfully rich and complex sparkling wine that is perfect with roasted fish or an assortment of cheeses, fruits and a warm fire.

 

 

Casa Vinicola Zonin - this is the largest privately held wine company in Italy. Their newest offering is a wonderful Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine most often served in lieu of champagne. Prosecco is a varietal wine made from the grape of the same name grown in the Veneto region of Italy. This is a very well-balanced version of this varietal with extremely delicate almond notes typical of Prosecco. It is dry and food friendly so it is easy to pair with a variety of foods. And just in case you aren’t sold just yet, a bottle retails for just under $14.

 

 

Lambrusco Salamino di Santo Croce – Vignetto Saetti – Lambrusco is another sparkling Italian wine, this one being a red sparkler, and one that should not be overlooked when you’re in the mood for a refreshing , effervescent  glass of wine to accompany a summer feast. Lambrusco is less bubbly and has less alcohol than Champagne and is considered a light glass of wine, which makes it ideal for warm summer days or cool evenings in the spring or fall with a light dinner. This particular Lambrusco is very dry with slight berry notes. The stronger flavors are peppercorns, tobacco, cedar rootbeer, allspice, cranberries, and red currants. Priced at $18 per bottle this is a nice bargain for a great Italian sparkling wine.

 

Marques de Gelida Brut Cava – This sparkling wine comes from the Cava region of Spain, which is known for sparkling wines. The Marques de Gelida Brut Cava is a blend of Chardonnay and three other varietals from the Cava region. The most predominant flavors are that of baking spices, and white flowers leading to a sparkling wine with excellent acidy, dry fruit and a lengthy finish. This is also a very drinkable sparkling wine that pairs well with many different foods and is incredibly affordable at $19 bottle.

 

 

You don’t have to buy an expensive bottle of champagne to enjoy a fine glass of sparkling wine, but there’s nothing wrong with doing so if that’s your bag. The point is that there are many other sparkling wines that are produced in wine regions in California, New York State, Italy, Spain and many other wine growing locations. Each has its own unique characteristics that distinguish them from their peers and make them worth tasting. These wines pair well with a variety of foods and are therefore versatile enough to be served with appetizers, cheese plates, or simply as a refreshing drink at a neighborhood gathering. You will find that many of them are extremely affordable so if you’re throwing a party and want to serve sparkling wine or perhaps to make a Mimosa or two, they are terrific substitutes for more expensive champagnes.

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