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I’ve been drinking sparkling wine on a weekly basis since February, and blogging about it in my “T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…” series. During that time, I’ve tasted sparkling wines from not only the usual suspects, France, California, Spain, and Italy, but also countries that aren’t “top of mind” when it comes to bubbly like Argentina, Austria, Australia, Portugal, and South Africa. I’ve had more bubbly since February than I’ve had the last 10 years!
I’ve learned a handful of things about sparkling wine as I’ve worked on perfecting my palate for bubbly. What do I mean by perfecting my palate? It has nothing to do with developing greater tasting acuity. Rather, it’s about “living” with a particular wine, learning everything you can about it, and buying as much of that wine as you can. It’s been an immensely pleasurable pursuit, which has turned me into a bubbles fiend! Here’s what I’ve learned…
Sparklers are wines with bubbles
Duh! Here’s what I mean. Like still wines, sparkling wines are made from a variety of grapes. They are easy, complex, and everything in between. They are light, medium, or full-bodied. They can be bone dry, or sweet. They are made in white, pink (Rosé), and red styles. Some are made to drink now, others can be aged for many years. And most importantly, just like still wine, sparkling wine is an every day wine. It’s so much more than a beverage for celebration. Yet, those bubbles seem to add a dash of magic to any occasion. I can’t resist sharing this quote that sums it up for me…
When Lily Bollinger was asked “When do you drink champagne?”, she replied:
“I only drink champagne 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 am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”
It’s great with a wide variety of foods
On a recent Saturday night at Chez Redmond, we had a diverse assortment of leftovers for dinner, including, steak, chile rellano, salad topped with tomato, and avocado salsa, and chicken apple sausage. We enjoyed this diverse range of food with a sparkling Rosé that paired nicely with the leftovers. Put simply, sparkling wines are food wines. Of course, like still wines, I recommend pairing light-bodied sparklers (most Cavas, Prosecco, and other light-bodied sparklers) with lighter fare. At the other end of the spectrum, I’d pair a steak with a fuller-bodied sparkler, especially a Rosé.
You don’t have to spend a bunch to drink it all the time
The average price of the sparklers I’ve tasted over the last 30 weeks was $17. The most expensive was $33. I’ve discovered an everyday Cava that’s less than $10 that has a good quality-price ratio. And, many good sparklers can be found for under $20 (Look for my Top 10 Sparklers Under $20…Coming soon!) At the same time, I’ve come to realize that I’m willing to spend more for sparklers that I enjoy. Like most folks, I used to think sparklers were limited to being consumed as apéritifs, or for celebrations. Consequently, I wouldn’t spend as much for “better” sparklers. Yet, I’d spend $30-$50 for a “better” bottle of still wine. Ironically, now that I’ve come to realize sparklers can be consumed throughout a meal, I’m willing to pay more for the pleasure.
It’s a deathbed wine for me
Yep…if I had a choice, I’d have a great Rosé Champagne (at least for the first couple of courses) to celebrate going to my Sweet Reward.
Cava – It’s not just for Mimosas anymore
I’m really digging Cava, at least Reserva level Cava. It hasn’t always been that way. I pretty much limited my consumption of Cava to using it for Mimosas. That was before I discovered a couple of Raventós i Blanc Cavas, one a traditional white, the other their outstanding Rosé. I’m sure there are others awaiting my discovery.
Here’s my hearty recommendation friends. Go out and buy a bottle of bubbly today, whether it be Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Cava, or Prosecco. Enjoy it as more than an apéritif. Wait a day, or a week, or maybe two. Repeat indefinitely!
“May your glass always be filled with warm memories, and the taste of a life well lived linger on your tongue” – Unknown
p.s. To view the sparklers reviewed in the “T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…” series, just type in T.G.I.F in the Search box above.