Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bring on the bubbles...tiny bubbles.

Well before the New Year even starts, I've already decided what my first (of many I presume) resolutions will be - Drink more Champagne! Like many resolutions, I've said this before and did not stick to it and I am in such a deficit now that my tombstone should read - "lover of good women (my wife), wine and song...but did not drink enough Champagne damnit!"

So what will make 2008 any different? For starters, I have a new appreciation for sparkling wine and food combinations. I really had no idea that sparkling wine could pair so well with so many foods...especially seafood which I love as well. Second, I've discovered all the other regions that produce very good sparkling wine at very reasonable prices. Cava, Sekt, Asti/Spumante, Prosecco, Cremant along with all the domestic brands that are doing a very good job with sparklers these days. Lastly, more convenient availability on hand. I am committed to always having a bottle chilled and ready to go. In the past, I would only purchase for special occasions and then chill it appropriately. A small separate cooler for this will do the trick. (hey Santa, wink, wink, are you listening...?)

Now, back to the food and sparkling wine thing. To begin with the basics, realize that Champagne is wine, only bubblier, and should be paired appropriately. True Champagne can only come from the Champagne region in Northern France and all others fall in to other 'sparkling wine' categories by country as mentioned earlier. The three main grapes used are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. (other countries use various indigenous grape varietals...but that's a whole other story). Blanc de Blancs (lighter body) is derived solely from the white grapes and Blanc de Noir (more weight) is from the Pinot Noir (dark) grape. Rose Champagne (my personal favorite) is mostly from the Pinot Noir grape with a touch of skin color imparted. Sidenote: Brut is drier than "Extra Dry" on labels and 'Vintage' Champagne is labeled with a year only in the years worthy of giving it this designation.

Some of the keys to sparkling wine going so well with food is its light alcohol and is balanced acidity. As with any food and wine combinations, you should pair the weight of the food with the weight of wine. In this case, the weight of the sparkly. Cava and Prosecco are lighter, and Rose and Vintage Champagne are heavier.

Here are some suggestions to pair with Champagne (sparkling wine):

Lighter-body - Cava, Sekt, Prosecco, Blanc de Blancs
- Salads, shellfish (crab/lobster/shrimp), oysters, sushi/sashimi, caviar, ceviche, Goda/Feta cheese

Fuller-bodied - Brut, Vintage, Rose
- roasted lighter meats (duck/poultry or ham), smoked seafoods, salmon, seafood salads/cocktail

Sweeter Champagnes or sparkling reds
- Chocolate, cake, cheesecake

That should give you a good start just in time for the holidays. Or, like me, commit to drinking more sparkling wine altogether, alone or with food.

Cheers! To a happy holiday and a very prosperous 2008!!

Until the next sip...swirl ya' later,
JM
Chief Wino

1 comment:

Nicholas said...

Actually most rose sparkling differs from traditional roses because it is usually made by adding a very small (or not so small, Champagne Jean Milan Rose) amount of red wine.

Cheers