Saturday, December 31, 2011

Know Your Bubbly Better Than Bubba

For us hard-core winos there are many occasions to enjoy a good bottle of bubbly. However, if you talk to any wine marketing expert, they’ll all tell you how bubbly wine is really only sold two times each year; New Years and Valentines. The crappy part about that bit of news is that people judge their whole “Champagne” drinking experience around two $6 bottles of Cooks Brut each year. I’m not saying that Cooks isn’t bad, but judging a whole type of wine by that kind of statistic is bad. So, knowing that I have a short time to tell you all I know about bubbles, I’m going to unload the best method of getting you what you want this year. That way, when you pop the cork at midnight and that cute chick you’ve been kissing under the misseltoe all night takes her first taste of 2012, she’ll know you know your bubbly better than any other bubba in the room. One thing you’ve got to know for sure is that most sparkling wines are NOT sweet. In fact most on the shelf are dry. (Sorry, us winos like it that way.) A little hint though. There are a few sweet sparkling wines. One that I love, and is relatively cheap, is Ballatore Rosso. It is pink colored, and goes great over a glass of fresh raspberries. If you really want to impress, I suggest looking for a nice Lambrusco, which comes in red or white. I remember the jingle from my childhood that “everything’s nice with Riunite on ice”. Riunite still exists on the shelf today, but this year I’m pouring a Dell’emilia Bianco LeGrotte white Lambrusco. It is lightly bubbly, with soft sweetness and a nice acidity to cleanse the palate. Great with the heavy, creamy and cheesy dishes of New Year’s Eve. Another slightly, off sweet option for bubbly is Prosecco. Originally this Italian wine was produced very sweet, but has grown drier over the years as it takes on the Champagne market of France. It is the main ingredient in a Bellini cocktail. This year I am enjoying a very nice bottle of Rustico from Nino Franco. This wine has wonderful bubbles as it enters the glass, which settle down quickly. It is done in the Frizzante style which is lightly sweet, but dries out quickly. Another great food wine. Now, as we’ve done in yeas past, let’s talk Champagne. Most people think they want this just for the name. but, when they actually taste it are unimpressed and switch quickly to mixed drinks or beer. This is my big warning. If you plan to drink “Champagne” that is sweet, good luck. Champagne, and the style Champenoise, are what is used in making most of the sparkling wines on store shelves. A local favorite is Domaine Ste. Michelle, where Rick Cascierro makes some fantastic wines of that style. The names Brut and Extra Dry are what you’ll usually find. These wines are dry. Usually made of either Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes, Champagne is delicious for serious wine drinkers, with bouquets of floral and fruit layered with minerality and acidity, and touched off by a slight hint of bread dough from the yeast in the bottle. My favorites are Veuve Cliquot, St. Michelle Blanc de Noir, and Moet Chandon White Star. Happy New Year, and HEY... Don’t drink and drive this holiday. It’s not worth it.

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