By Bob Lipinski
The expression, “All that bubbles is not champagne,” might be overplayed, but it is true. Sparkling wines are made throughout the world in virtually every country that makes wine, and most countries have a local name for their “bubbly.” However, the term “champagne” is properly given to the sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wines made in the U.S. must provide a geographic term such as New York, American, or California before the word “Champagne.”
A sparkling wine is an effervescent wine (contains bubbles) resulting from the secondary fermentation of wine within a closed container (bottle or tank). Sparkling wines are made globally from a multitude of different grapes and grape blends. Sparkling wines can be red, white or rosé (pink) and dry, off-dry, semisweet or even sweet. Prices also range from inexpensive to very expensive, sometimes costing hundreds of dollars per bottle.
Some recently tasted sparkling wines that should satisfy anyone’s taste are:
Codorníu Cuvée Clásico “Cava Brut,” Spain (blend of macabeo, parellada and xarel-lo grapes): Fine pin-point bubbles with a bouquet of green apples, lemon and brioche. Dry, clean and crispy in the mouth with a pleasing aftertaste of almonds. Fabulous with fried calamari.
Codorníu Anna Blanc de Blancs, Brut Reserva, Spain (blend of chardonnay, parellada, xarel-lo and macabeo grapes): Delicately flavored, elegant and beautifully balanced with a nice creamy mouthfeel and a lively, fruity-spicy aftertaste. Raw oysters with a hint of mignonette sauce pairs well.
2016 Montesel Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, DOCG, Brut, Italy: A top-of-the-line dry prosecco, which has a fruity bouquet of apples, citrus and fennel. Flavors of ginger, stone fruit and anise round out this beauty. Did anyone say dark chocolate with some fresh raspberries!
Philippe Deval Brut Crémant de Loire, AOC Loire Valley, France (blend of chenin blanc and chardonnay grapes): A flowery aroma of apple cider, citrus, nuts and peaches. Dry and lemony with ripe melon flavors and almond aftertaste. Serve with a fruit-based sauce over pork.
Cococciola Brut Spumante, Abruzzo, Italy: Cococciola is a white grape variety grown in the Abruzzo (some in Apulia) region since the early 1900s and used mostly for blending. This is the first sparkling wine I have seen from the grape variety and it is amazing! Pale straw colored with a perfumed aroma of apricots, honeysuckle, lychee and wild flowers. Flavors of citrus and orange, with hints of sage and toasted almonds. The aftertaste begs for another glass (or bottle)! Pair this with some panettone, light fruit tarts or a bowl of strawberries with whipped cream.
By the way … the first recorded production of a bottle-fermented sparkling wine occurred as early as 1531 at the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire at Limoux in southern France, more than a century before Dom Pérignon arrived at Hautvillers.
Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or [email protected]