I never gave sparkling wine a fair shake (no pun intended). Like most people, my first exposures to sparkling wines were New Year’s Eve parties as a kid. Sooner or later, someone would put a glass of Champagne in my hand. I’d take a sip and think about it for a moment, only to decide that I didn’t understand. Usually it was too bubbly, acidic and smelled more like a loaf of bread than a glass of wine. Fast forward to adolescence and the first time I decided to indulge a little more with the bubbly, along with the hangover that I experienced the following day. I didn’t understand this sparkling wine “thing.”
The fact was, I was probably drinking swill. To make matters worse, I didn’t understand the art of moderation. However, these experiences marked me and my opinion of sparkling wine for over two decades, until someone finally put a good glass of Champagne in my hand. It was a Non-Vintage (NV) Ulysse Collin Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs and I loved it. With my inhibitions tossed to the wind, I had finally decided to start exploring sparkling wine.
But where to start was the question. The fact is, there’s a lot more to sparkling wine than just Champagne. Most are dry (Extra Brut), but you can also find sparklers in many degrees of sweetness. Some are made from red grapes (Blanc de Noirs), some from white (Blanc de Blancs) and many are Rosé. The good news is that once you start to explore, you immediately realize that all of these wines are amazing when paired with food, and popping open any kind of bubbly seems to put people in the mood for a good time.
With limited space, I could not possibly cover every category of sparkling wine, so I’ve decided to discuss some of favorite styles with my favorite pairings. Think of it as an introduction with a world of new experiences waiting down the road.
Eric Guido, Snooth