Two words always seem to magically pop up, like CO2 during fermentation, when people discuss sparkling wine – celebration and Champagne. But why save the bubbles for a special occasion? And who said anything about Champagne? Sparkling wine is made in most wine producing regions such as zippy Cava from Spain, refreshingly crisp Frizzante wines from Italy and other French sparkling wines such as Vins Mousseux and Cremants. With so much variety, there is a perfect one for every occasion. Enjoy a “fizzy lifting drink” at a sexy roof top party, a posh picnic or aboard a yacht. What could be a better setting to pop a bottle of bubbly?
If there is one wine etiquette faux-pas, it would be using Champagne to describe all sparkling wine. There is a clear distinction to be made here…Champagne is the granddaddy of all sparkling wine. Normally a blend of several vintages, it is allowed to ferment in the bottle, aged for a prolonged period of time and possesses richness and complexity that other sparkling wines will never attain. Additionally, it is only made in Champagne, France; sparkling wine made outside of this region is not legally allowed to carry the name. So the moral of the story is that Champagne and sparkling wine cannot be used interchangeably; Champagne is definitely sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.
Once people overcome the hurdle of calling bubbly wine something it is not, they can move onto the pleasures and delights of discovering a throng of exciting sparkling wines made all over the world. Pick up a bottle, bring the fizz and all that jazz to a cocktail party near you.
Jean Francois Merieau, “Bulles” Methode Traditionelle, NV, $25 – This lovely, bubbly Loire valley wine, Touraine to be precise, made of 80% chenin blanc and 20 percent sauvignon blanc is fun, spritzy, and sassy. Slightly off-dry, its effervescence gives way to wafting scents of apples, pears and citrus with a light asian spice on the finish. Unmistakably a party in a bottle, just check the label: Bulles = bubbles.
Fantinel, Rosé Brut, Friuli, NV, $20 – From the Friuli region in Italy, this predominantly pinot nero/chardonnay (87%/13%) blend made in the charmat method shines and shimmers in shades of strawberries and cream. Freshly crushed red berries and a light yeastiness entice the senses while its delicate texture and bright acidity awakens the soul.
Movia, “Puro” Rose, Slovenia 2000, $50 – Ales Kristancic makes one of the most undeniably dramatic and complex rosé sparklers available. Just like its winemaker, Puro is simultaneously vibrant, powerful and eclectic, always making a spectacular entrance as it arrives undisgorged and upside down. In order to unlock the buckets of berries and bushels of citrus notes, the bottle must be submerged and opened in its own water bath. So novices beware, open at your own risk.
Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, visit www.epicuriouschic.com and they can assist in sourcing these wines.