There are a lot of different sparkling wines out there in the wine world and which one is the right one for your celebratory New Years drink?
First off not all sparkling wines are champagne. The only sparkling wines that are actually champagnes are the ones that come from the region of Champagne in France. (unless you’re one of the few California wineries that have been around for over 50+ years that got grandfathered in…whatever) Everything else is sparkling wine.
Different countries have different names for their sparkling. Spain calls their wine Cava, Italy calls theirs Prosecco, and you might also see Spumante.
What is the difference between all of the different types? Let’s break it down:
Champagne is a dry sparkling wine usually made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier grapes. The different types are Cuvee, Extra Dry, Blanc de Blanc, Blanc de Noir, Rose, and Brut.
With all that said, most sparkling wines are going to be a little on the dry side. Most Prosecco, Cava, Rose, and extra dry Champagnes will have the same dry consistency like a Chardonnay but will have a hint of sweet at the end. California sparkling wines and Brut tend to me more drier like a red wine.
I will be hosting a free wine tasting at Liquor City Bakewell today and tomorrow from 4 – 8 and we will be tasting Champagnes, Sparkling wines, and Moscato. Stop on by during those hours anytime and I’ll help you choose the right sparkling for you.
Tomorrow night, the Dilly Cafe (Dilly Deli) in Mariemont is hosting a wine dinner with sparkling wine vintners Domain Chandon. At last check, there were still about 8 seats left and at $65, the price is pretty reasonable.
Now, I’d be perfectly happy to only drink sparkling wine (including champagne, prosecco, cava, and others) for the rest of my life. It is my favorite type of wine, closely followed by pinot noir. But to get you in the mood for a sparkling wine dinner, I thought I’d talk a little about a seminar we took in Disney, with Moët & Chandon, Domaine Chandon’s parent company. Moët & Chandon, based in France, makes champagne. Domaine Chandon, in Napa, makes sparkling wine using the traditional champagne method. Only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can actually be called “champagne.” For our purposes, I’m just going to go with “bubbly.”
Our instructor was Seth Box, Director of Education for Moët & Chandon USA. One of the first things he did was to preemptively correct the class’s pronunciation. Despite the fact that folks everywhere pronounce it Mo-AY and Chandon, it’s actually Mo-ETT. That, folks, is what those two little dots mean over the e.
Champagne, and sparkling wine in the champagne method, can be made from three grapes: Pinot Noir gives the wine backbone and structure, Chardonnay lends elegance, and the Pinot Meunier picks up the slack as a workhorse grape. I find this interesting, as I really enjoy Pinot Meunier on its own. In fact, I think Domain Chandon might make one of the few Pinot Meunier-only wines available on our retail shelves.
Seth pretty much told us to just enjoy our samples while he talked
about Moët & Chandon and bubbly in general. I thought I’d touch on
some of the more interesting points he shared before I dive into our
review of the wines.
On to the wines. We tried three, all Moët & Chandon Non-Vintage. I enjoyed all three, but definitely preferred the second glass.
Rosé (Brut): According to Seth, this pink wine was the best of our three for food pairing, because the contact with the red grape skins (thus the pink) lends a little bit of tannins to the wine. This wine had some strawberries, light cherries, and a good texture.
Imperial (Extra Dry): You might know this wine as White Star. Until recently, it was known world-over as Imperial, except in the US. They changed the name domestically so that you could order your favorite sparkler by the same name, no matter where you land. I’ve always been a fan of White Star, er, Imperial. It has more of the dry, bread-y flavors I prefer in a good bubbly, and it’s not very sweet.
Michelle & Kevin:
Nectar Imperial (Demi-Sec): This was by far the sweetest. I’m not a huge fan of sweet bubbly, so this one was my least favorite. I made a very unscientific observations at the Dessert & Champagne booth, however. I noticed this wine was being poured more frequently than the other bubblies and that it was almost always chosen by women. Seth noted that this wine pairs well with strong cheeses, such as cheddar, gouda, and chevre.
Michelle & Kevin:
The Dilly Cafe dinner (full menu) on Tuesday begins with a reception at 6:30 pm and dinner at 7 pm. Again, it’s a Domain Chandon wine dinner, which is located in Napa and owned by Moët & Chandon. In fact, Domaine Chandon has a special place in my heart as the first winery I ever visited in Napa, back in 2004. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to begin that trip with some sparkling wine. I recommend you give Domaine Chandon a try as well. You can RSVP by calling 513.561.5233.
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