Tag Archives: bubbly

Wine Resolution #1: Drink More Bubbly!

Though not my top resolution, or even one that I write down every year, I do try to do this often – drink more bubbly. More wedding bubblyspecifically, drink it with food. Sure, we have it at weddings and on New Year’s Eve, but why don’t we open sparkling wine because we’re having a wonderful meal? We should! My reasons for bubbly’s food matching deliciousness?

– good, crisp acidity
– low alcohol
– varying degrees of body – from light to full

These three reasons are key in explaining why bubbles are a perfect match to food. Acidity and low alcohol are what makes a wine good with food – flabby, high-alcohol wine overpower or mute the flavors of the food. Plus, d epending on your meal, 260x135_HOLchampagnefrom sushi to steak, you can choose light-bodied sparkling wine, like a blanc de blancs, or a full-bodied sparkling wine, like a blanc de noir. I posted a “body” guide to Champagne earlier this season. This is the time to stock up, too. Crazy good deals on Champagne are happening now, not to mention the everyday values of Cava and US Sparkling wine.

I hope that celebrating bubbly with food is a growing trend. Bill Daley of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article on twelve good California Sparkling wines to ring in 2010. What I love most is that each wine he mentions includes food pairing ideas!

So don’t be afraid to pair that bottle of bubbly with a meal. If not that, at least bring out a bowl of popcorn with it – you cannot go wrong with that match!

Guide to Bubbly

Champagne and sparkling wine are a necessity during the holidays. What better thing to toast than friends, family, the joy of the season and occasionally a few days off? A few thoughts on bubbles.

You don’t have to spend a fortune – yes, once you try that Krug Grand Cuvee you will realize why Cristalino only costs $8. But there are plenty of wonderful wines in between and Cristalino is still an awesome value! So look for some wines in your price rangejeroboam champagne

It’s not just for toasts – too often people drink Champagne only with a toast or as an aperitif. And that’s a shame because Champagne (especially rose) is wonderful with food. The acidity and texture of Champagne make it a perfect match for lots of food. So try it at the table, not just the before and after.

There is just something about real Champagne… Yes, there are great alternative sparkling wines, and I’ll list a few, but having at least one bottle of Champagne during the holidays will really make your season brighter. Here are some helpful tips on picking the right Champagne, either for yourself or for a gift



Picking a Champagne Producer

By price:

Top picks for $50 and under (all are Non-vintage)
Charles Heidsieck Brut
Duval-Leroy Brut
Gosset Brut Excellence – one of my favorites, medium bodied – delivers an excellent wine every year.
Nicolas Feuillatte Blue Label Brut – another favorite, very clean wine, great acidity
Piper Heidsieck – reasonably priced, nice texture and body
Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label – a classic label, brand & wine. Delicious.
Pol Roger Brut – elegant non-vintage bottle
Taittinger Brut La Francaise

Top producers from $50 – $100
This is where you start to see some vintage wines coming out, as well as Tete de Cuvee
Bollinger – if I cannot have Krug, I will drink Bollinger – love this full bodied Champagne.
Deutz (vintage)
Laurent-Perrier Brut Millesime (vintage)
Gosset Grand Reserve (NV) and Gosset Grand Millesime (vintage)
Henriot (vintage)

Splurge on $100 +
Bollinger Grand Annee (vintage)
Dom Perignon (vintage)
Krug Grand Cuvee (NV) or Krug (vintage)
Louis Roderer Cristal (vintage)
Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne (vintage)
Salon Blanc de Blancs (vintage)
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame (vintage)

By Style


Lighter-bodied producers 
Nicolas Feuillatte

Medium-bodied producers
Charles Heidsieck
Dom Perignon
Gosset NV Brut
Piper Heidsieck
Pol Roger
Veuve Clicquot

Full-bodied producers
Gosset (Grande Reserve & vintage)
Louis Roederer

There are also some delicious grower Champagnes, which are wines coming from the growers themselves instead of the larger production houses. These are worth seeking out.

Sparkling Wine picks:
For domestic (meaning US), Try Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley – amazing wines, fantastic prices; Iron Horse (all their cuvees are wonderful), Argyle and Schramsberg.

In Cava, love the Cristalino for parties as well as Segura Viudas.

And in Prosecco, the NIno Franco is very Champagne-like in its style.

Drink some bubbly, drink it with food and enjoy your holidays!

Champagne style Prosecco?

ninoLast night I had the pleasure of tasting the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco. Again. I previously opened it on Sunday evening for a few reasons. First, to entice my husband to do a few more “honey-dos” around the house after a very hectic weekend, and second, I was looking for a bubbly buzz. It was successful on both parts! Last night, I opened the remaining half bottle, which had been saved with my favorite Champagne stopper, while doing some computer work. This time, I was less concerned about my bubbly buzz and in-between typing really got to taste the wine.

Originating in the Veneto region of Italy, Prosecco is named for the grape from which it is produced, the wine it creates, and the DOC in Italy from which it hails. Prosecco is a delightful wine, typically made in the tank method, which is different from the method used for wines from Champagne, or the traditional method, as it's called. It shows lots of upfront fruit and usually lacks the typical characteristics common to Champagne and wines made in that style. The Nino Franco, however, is different… I still get the fruit aspect, but also with a lovely crisp, citrus background, with good bubble persistence and a nice, lingering finish. This is a delicious sparkling wine – it is Prosecco, but with an “I can be like Champagne, too” attitude. Good stuff. Enjoy. 

Buying Champagne 101

One of the questions I hear most often is "what is a good Champagne for ____ price range that I can get for my boss/friend's engagement/sister's housewarming/parent's anniversary/other celebration?" Champagne reigns as the gift-of-choice on so many occasions, and for good reason.

True Champagne, the real stuff from the actual region of Champagne; there is nothing like it. Just drinking it ignites all of your senses. The sigh of the cork, the shape of the flute in your hand, the foam rising dangerously fast to the edge as the wine pours into your glass. The steady twirling dance of the bubbles as they push themselves from the liquid to the air. The feel of those bubbles bursting in your mouth when you capture them in your first sip. And the wonderful taste of a wine that is full and rich and refreshing all at once. Okay, I'm thirsty now.

Think of this as your cheat sheet on buying Champagne – and other sparkling wine – whether it is for you or for a gift.

The facts about Champagne & tips on how to read the label

The grapes
There are 3 grapes used to make Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Some wines have all 3 grapes, some have only one or two.
On the label you may see the following:
• Blanc de Blanc – means “white of white” and is made only of Chardonnay; lighter in style & crisply delicious – this is a great apperatif or with seafood. A great producer is Salon
• Blanc de Noir – means “white of black” and is a white champagne made from either Pinot Noir or both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (both red grapes); usually fuller-bodied than blanc de blanc, this style enjoys the ability to match with a variety of foods.
• Rose – could be only one grape or all three, but must contain some % of a red grape – that’s where it gets the pink color! Champagne is actually one of the only regions of France that blends red and white wine to create rose, rather than the saignee method, or bleeding. Also a great match with food – and good for any reason you might be in the mood for pink.

Non-Vintage vs. Vintage
Non-vintage wines are exactly what they say they are – not from a particular vintage. They are blends of a few wines from different years. Remember, Champagne begins as a blend of still wine. If the Chardonnay of 2005 is not acidic enough, they’ll pull some of the 2003 or 2004 Chardonnay and blend it in for acidity. The goal is consistency. So that the NV of Veuve Clicquot you buy this year will be consistent with the one you bought last year. Most NV Champagne represent a house “style” that the winemaker tries to maintain so that the consumer knows what they are getting. NV wines should be drunk within a year or two of purchase.

Some years the vintage is so perfect that the houses of Champagne declare a vintage year. The blend is made only from grapes in that vintage – no adding of back vintages allowed. Vintage wines are low in supply and high in demand, and therefore a bit more pricy than that NV. Most vintage champagnes can age about 10 to 15 years, sometimes longer. Some houses don’t even release their Champagne until 10 years later because of the amount of bottle aging they prefer – Dom Perignon released their 1999 vintage about the same time Krug released their 1995!

Other label tid-bits
Premier Cuvee or Tete de Cuvee – means the top of the top, the best blend of the house. Some good examples include Krug's Grand Cuvee, Bollinger's Grand Annee and Charles Heidsieck's Champagne Charlie
Premier Cru and Grand Cru – Some vineyards in Champagne, like other areas of France are labeled Premier Cru or Grand Cru vineyards. If a house purchases all of its grapes from grand cru or premier cru vineyards, they may put that on their label. Egly-Ouriet has a lot of Grand Cru wines, as do

Levels of Sweetness
Extra Brut – Bone dry
Brut – very dry, but with more dosage
Sec – Still very dry, but with a hint of sweetness
Demi-Sec – technically means "half dry" but really is half sweet
Doux – sweetest of the Champagne, more rare, often more expensive, and a delicious balance of sweetness and acidity.