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JEAN-SEBASTIEN MORIN: Singing the praises of sparkling wines

Effervescent wines are produced on a large scale in Spain, Italy, Germany and France. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Effervescent wines are produced on a large scale in Spain, Italy, Germany and France. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By Jean-Sébastien Morin

Special to The Guardian

It is somewhat ironic to be making the case for enjoying sparkling wine year-round, a few days before New Year’s Eve.

On the other hand, it may be the best time of year to sing the praise of effervescent wines in the hope that revelers will take time to truly consider these wines for all that they offer: elegance and a sense of festivity, yes; but also tremendous diversity, versatility and in some cases, great value.

 

Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique Non-Vintage  Nova Scotia, Canada 09031Z  $30.25 Cristaline with great purity of fruit. Opens with yeasty notes of bread dought, citrus and honey. Very clean with vibrant acidity. White peaches and a hint of of honey on the palate. Manages to be both very expressive and airy at the same time. Would be delightful with sweet and sour chicken or roasted peaches with mascarpone. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique Non-Vintage Nova Scotia, Canada 09031Z $30.25 Cristaline with great purity of fruit. Opens with yeasty notes of bread dought, citrus and honey. Very clean with vibrant acidity. White peaches and a hint of of honey on the palate. Manages to be both very expressive and airy at the same time. Would be delightful with sweet and sour chicken or roasted peaches with mascarpone. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Many wine regions have valid claims to the “invention” of wine containing bubbles of dissolved carbon dioxide, from Limoux to Die in France, and even some Italian regions. However, there is no doubt that in the global social consciousness, Champagne is the spiritual home of sparkling wine.

 

Vitteault-Alberti Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Noirs Burgundy, France B0145Z Veneto, Italy 15413Z $20.16 (on sale $2.00 off at $18.16 until January 2, 2018) An easy drinking and elegant Prosecco. Clean and refreshing flavours of Golden apple and nectarine with hints of vanilla and ripe banana on the finish. Another very versatile sparkler that would pair with a wide selection of foods from salmon fritters to chicken/turkey salad sandwich (especially if made with apples and curry). SUBMITTED PHOTO
Vitteault-Alberti Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Noirs Burgundy, France B0145Z Veneto, Italy 15413Z $20.16 (on sale $2.00 off at $18.16 until January 2, 2018) An easy drinking and elegant Prosecco. Clean and refreshing flavours of Golden apple and nectarine with hints of vanilla and ripe banana on the finish. Another very versatile sparkler that would pair with a wide selection of foods from salmon fritters to chicken/turkey salad sandwich (especially if made with apples and curry). SUBMITTED PHOTO

Although produced for hundreds of years, and long associated with royalty, the wines of Champagne as we know them today – that is to say, fully and consistently sparkling, were born only in the first half of the 19th century.

 

Villa Conchi Cava Brut Seleccion Catalonia, Spain 15419Z  $17.99 A bright and fruity expression of Cava. Pear, peach and custard flavours are bolstered by ample, but not aggressive mousse and refreshing acidity. Approachable and versatile. Perfect to sip on its own or with a shrimp and avocado salad served with citrus dressing. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Villa Conchi Cava Brut Seleccion Catalonia, Spain 15419Z $17.99 A bright and fruity expression of Cava. Pear, peach and custard flavours are bolstered by ample, but not aggressive mousse and refreshing acidity. Approachable and versatile. Perfect to sip on its own or with a shrimp and avocado salad served with citrus dressing. SUBMITTED PHOTO

In addition to the méthode traditionelle used in Champagne, modern era sparkling wines have since been produced by various processes including the Charmat method, the Asti method, and, for entry level sparkling wines, via carbonation, a process similar to making sodas.

 

Vitteault-Alberti Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Noirs Burgundy, France B0145Z $29.49 A great example of how crémant can, in some instances, offer much of the elegance and complexity of Champagne at less than half the price. Aromas of freshly baked bread with just a hint of smokiness. Very good concentration and some weight on the palate with citrus, blueberry and slightly earthy notes. Would pair beautifully with a chicken-mushroom casserole. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Vitteault-Alberti Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Noirs Burgundy, France B0145Z $29.49 A great example of how crémant can, in some instances, offer much of the elegance and complexity of Champagne at less than half the price. Aromas of freshly baked bread with just a hint of smokiness. Very good concentration and some weight on the palate with citrus, blueberry and slightly earthy notes. Would pair beautifully with a chicken-mushroom casserole. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Effervescent wines are produced on a large scale in various regions such as Catalonia in Spain where it is called Cava; in the Prosecco appellation of Italy, in Germany where it is known as Sekt, and in many regions of France other than Champagne, where it is collectively referred to as crémant (e.g. crémant d’Alsace). 

Sparkling wines are also made in the cooler wine regions of Australia, California, New Zealand and South Africa to name just a few important producers.  Some regions with really cool climates (from a wine-growing perspective) have emerged as “sparkling stars” in recent years: Tasmania, England and closer to home, Nova Scotia.

Although a primer on sparkling wine-making, or an overview of sparkling production around the world are worthy topics, today’s column is about suggesting instances where sparkling wines would shine and pair beautifully with everyday foods. 

Sparkling wines are too often confined to holidays and special occasions. They are, to some extent, victims of the pedestal where we set them apart from still wines. As soon a special occasion arises, they are some of the first wines we think of, but when it comes to choosing wine for a regular, relaxing Friday night, bubblies are some of the last wines most of us grab on the way home.  Hopefully this is changing as the popularity of sparkling wines continues to grow around the globe.

The table below proposes some ideas for pairing sparkling wines with foods that are not specifically associated with holiday celebrations.

Sparkling Wine

Example

Pairing Suggestions

Non-Vintage Champagne (Brut)

Bollinger Special Cuvée (C0001Z)

Fried calamari, eggs Benedict, buttered popcorn, chips

Non-Vintage Champagne Rosé

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (R0239Z)

Stuffed mushroom caps, bruschetta, grilled salmon, strawberries, cherries

Crémant de Bourgogne

Vitteault-Alberti Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Noirs

 (B0145Z)

Crab cakes, deep fried mozzarella sticks, seafood chowder

Crémant d’Alsace

Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Réserve

(15405Z)

Garlic fingers, ham and cheese sandwich, Asian flavoured mussels

Cava

Villa Conchi Cava Brut Seleccion (15419Z)

 

Quiche, shrimp tempura, fish and chips

Prosecco

Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut

Veneto, Italy

(15413Z)

 

Chicken finger, shrimp cocktail, Chinese take-out

Asti

Martini Asti (15470Z)

Biscotti, fruit salad, almond cookies, meringues

California

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (15653Z)

Fried chicken, roasted chicken

New Zealand

Oyster Bay Cuvée Brut (15404Z)

Pasta primavera, Pad Thai, sushi, oysters

Australia

Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling (15487Z)

Bagel with cream cheese, veggie burger

Nova Scotia

Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique Non-Vintage (09031Z)

 

Nachos with mango salsa, lemon custard or fool

 

 Jean-Sébastien Morin is a category manager with P.E.I. Liquor. He is an accredited sommelier, wine writer, educator, and wine judge. His love of wine was born in the late 1980s, while studying and working in Europe. Inspired Grapes aims to transmit Morin’s passion for wine while never forgetting that the pleasure of a glass of wine often resides in the moment and the company in which it is shared. To reach, Morin email infopeilcc@liquorpei.com

 

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