It’s sparkling wine season—get out your flutes!Those are the long narrow glasses with stems, the ones you’ve probably pushed to the back of your china cabinet.
Once you’ve found your flutes, it’s time to buy some wine.But what kind?Here’s a little guide to help you decide.
Champagne is definitely the king of sparklers, in pricing ($60-plus per bottle) and prestige. This sparkling wine is made in the Champagne region of France from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes.If it reads Blanc de Blanc on the label, then it’s made from exclusively chardonnay; if it reads Blanc de Noirs, then it is made from just the pinots. Champagne has its second fermentation—and the making of its bubbles—inside the bottle, as does all sparkling wine employing the méthode Champenoise or traditional method.
Champagnes are known for their yeasty, toasty and nutty aromas and citrus, green apple and ripe berry flavours. Serve Champagne with smoked salmon, caviar on toasts or rich lobster bisque.
Cava is Spain’s sparkler.Made in the traditional method, this wine can be considerably less expensive, running anywhere from $14 to $45 dollars in B.C. liquor stores.Ask your wine consultant to help you choose one that suits your taste.
Cava has tiny bubbles and just a touch of yeastiness with apple, pear, melon and citrus flavours.Serve it with something spicy or salty—spiced nuts or smoked salmon, for example. Even a spicy, cheesy chicken quesadilla with salsa would work.
Prosecco is Italy’s answer to sparkling wine. It’s also my favourite.From the Veneto region of Italy, this wine is typically made in the Charmatmethod, where the wine has its second fermentation (and the making of the bubbles) in a sealed tank and is then bottled very carefully under pressure to safeguard all those tiny tickling bubbles.You can get some great Proseccos here—organic even—from about $15 upward.
Prosecco and its tiny bubbles, subtle touch of yeast, and fruityflavours(citrus, apple, pear and melon) works just as perfectly with sausages and olives as it does with something a little sweet and salty like half a fresh fig and arugula leaf wrapped with prosciutto.Or, try one of my favourite combinations: Prosecco with take out tempura and sushi.Yummy!
B.C. has some pretty good sparklers. Sumac Ridge’s Tribute Silver ($30.00) Pinnacle ($35.00) and Stellers Jay ($27.00), made in the traditional method (the same method the wines of Champagne use), are all good choices.
And local winery Township 7 (www.township7.com) has its Seven Stars sparkler.Made in the traditional method from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, this wine is “creamy, rich, and intense, with spicy aromas, crisp, full fruit flavours and a clean finish.” I really like it, but it's so hard to get!
If you have more questions about sparkling wine, give me a shout or drop me a note or comment and I'll be happy to answer them.
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"I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I'm thirsty."
I don't know about you, but I don't remember things the way I used to. I have to write everything down these days. And that goes for my wine tasting, too.
I keep my tasting notes in a few places: a small purse-size notebook that travels with me everywhere; a spiral-bound notebook I keep in my kitchen; and a lovely journal, given to me by my dearest friend, that I keep for my special-occasion wine notes and labels.
I know this seems rather complicated, but I haven't yet figured out a better way.
The trouble is, I have to.
You see, I've lost my little blue purse-size notebook. I've lost it before I've transcribed the notes about many of my special wines into my journal. I've lost it before I've written about certain wines in my monthly wine column in the Abbotsford News, or here on this blog, or for Palate Press. I haven't even yet tweeted about many of them. (I'm silently hoping my little blue book is sitting beside my lost Fendi eye glasses and that I'll soon find both.)
I need a better way.
Fellow wine writers, bloggers, lovers: please tell me how you do it. Keep your tasting notes, that is.
We drove into historic Fort Langley tonight (despite the snow) to enjoy a very yummy dinner with six friends. Teresa Pippus, our hostess, prepared raclette and I took along a bottle of Flor (a Prosecco made from grapes within and outside the Valdobbiadene region of Veneto in Italy; therefore, it isn't allowed to use the Valdobbiadene DOCG designation) to share.
This sparkling wine—which clocks in at $20 and 12% ABV—is fragrant, refreshing, and full of citrus and stone fruit flavours. The bubbles are fine and the mousse is creamy, with a nutty undertone.
Flor has just the sort of acidity you want to clean your palate and help you get through all the melted, gooey, cheesey goodness of raclette.
This wine definitely gets better when it opens up and when it's sipped with supper.
The receipt from the liquor store says this wine is $20 but I was certain the shelf tag said $26. And, the B.C. liquor store website says $26.99 so what you'll actually have to pay for it is a bit of a mystery.
Always check for the black rooster to ensure that your wine is Chianti Classico:
While this last week saw the vineyards in the Okanagan reach optimum icewine grape-picking temperatures, last night (December 10) saw Niagara's Inniskillin 2003 Gold Oak-aged Vidal Icewine served to the revellers at the Nobel Peace Prize dinner, where U.S. President Barak Obama, the 2009 recipient of the award, was honoured.
The Vidal Icewine, served with a caramel-and-chocolate-glazed banana mousse and peanut meringue for dessert, capped the five-course luxury banquet held in the historic Mirror Room at The Grand hotel in Oslo.
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Did you know?
Inniskillin Wines, founded by Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser, with wineries and vineyards in the Niagara Peninsula (Ontario) and the Okanagan Valley (British Columbia), was granted the first winery license in Ontario since Prohibition...
I had a fabulous opportunity to taste many good wines from B.C. and around the world at Whistler’s Cornucopia 2009, a four-day wine-and-food (but mostly wine) extravaganza. Here are some of my highlights, in time for your holiday entertaining... Read more.