I am Touching the Stars | A Celebration of Sparkling Wine
New Years is here and the best way to celebrate is by popping a bottle of bubbly and enjoying a wine that sparkles likes the stars in the heavens. For most of us this is a once a year chance to uncork a crisp and refreshing bottle of Champagne, a light and fizzy Prosecco, or a sophisticated yet value packed bottle of Cava. For the rest of us “bubbly lovers” it is just another excuse to pull the best bottles out of our cellars and pop the corks.
Because many people have questions about sparkling wines let me offer some suggestions on how to celebrate in style.
On the sweeter note:
The Asti region of Piemonte in Northwest Italy is a home to some amazing wines like Barolo and Barbaresco, but not everyone knows that the region also produces some amazing sparkling wines. Moscato d’Asti would be it’s sweetest version, known as frizzante (semi-sparkling). With low levels of alcohol (4-6%) and a honeysuckle and orange blossom floral characteristic this is a very unique and tasty bubbly. Look for producers like Batasiolo or Michaele Chiarlo. The drier and more widely known version Asti Spumante (fully sparkling) is a cheaper alternative. It is still sweet and delicious with the most-widely recognized labels coming from the Martini company.
Wine in this category would be preferably made by a tank method which is an easier way of making quick, simple and refreshing sparkling wines. It’s best representative would be Prosecco. Produced from the Prosecco grape, this variety is also known as Glera in Northeast Italy. Mainly produced in the Veneto region, Proseccos come from a wide variety of producers. This wine’s popularity is due to its light body with higher level of fruitiness and a lack of the bready/yeasty characteristics. Add to this lower price points, and you have a winner that is widely used for cocktails in bars around the world. My favorite producers are Villa Sandi and Bisol.
On the Value side:
Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine, made out of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada and also Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Cava is one of my favorite choices when visiting a liquor stores because of It’s low price ($12-16) and high quality (bottles can be similar to champagne). I love the brioche, crackers and bread dough characteristics combined with crisp and citrusy aromas which leave your palate completely satisfied and refreshed. The best bargain is Codorniu, followed by Segura Viudas and it’s bigger sister Aria.
On the extravagant side:
Champagne, is the undisputed king of all sparkling wines. This is a wine that is usually a part of the largest and most prestigious celebrations around the world and it is a wine that will make you feel like royalty. Opening the best names like Krug, Crystal, Dom Perignon and Salon will impress even the snobbiest wine connoisseur. But, not everyone wants to spend a few hundred dollars on a bottle of bubbly so I recommend that you try any of the excellent Nicholas Feuillatte products. Their Brut and Grand Cru Champagnes are to die for and they are now very hip and popular around New York’s hottest night spots. Also Perrier Joulet and Pol Roger are producing great bang for your buck.
So never forget the romance of a bottle of sparkling wine as each bubble twinkles like a beautiful star. And this year when you celebrate the New Years please do so with a bang or should I say a pop?
Blog by: Otta Zapotocky, General Manager and Sommelier at Wildfire Steakhouse and Wine Bar