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A Bit of the Bubbly

By Megan Myers, December 24, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Megan Myers

Pineapple Rosemary Crush Cocktails

Pineapple Rosemary Crush Cocktails

No matter the occasion, sparkling cocktails add an extra touch of excitement. When it comes to the New Year’s Eve countdown, something bubbly is a must! But for some, the champagne and sparkling wine section can be one of the most daunting areas of the wine department.

With that in mind, here’s a champagne primer to help get your bubbly supply sorted out in time to celebrate!

Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

Just as some wines and cheeses are only produced in a specific geographic area, only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can be officially labeled “Champagne.” Other European countries use other names for the sparkling wine they produce: Cava in Spain; Prosecco, Asti or Spumante in Italy; and Sekt in Germany.

Bubblies from California, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the several wine-producing countries of South America are generally referred to as sparkling wine or sparklers. Many sparkling wines rival true champagne in taste and complexity and can be a better value.

How Do I Choose? Here are a few basic terms that are used on both champagnes and sparkling wines. These should help narrow your search to match your taste preferences.

  • ChampagneBrut: The driest one, but not to be confused with “Extra Dry,” which, ironically, is not as dry as Brut. Brut is the most food-friendly of champagnes. The smoky, salty nature of caviar makes for a classic match. For everyday occasions, try potato latkes and sour cream or any number of salty tidbits.
  • Extra Dry: A touch of fruity sweetness but finishes on a dry note. These are quite versatile and can be served as an apertif or after dinner. They’re more or less in the middle of the spectrum.
  • Sec: Next in line for dryness, but you don’t see it very often.
  • Demi-sec: The most residual sugar of the bunch (outside of Doux, which is rare). This is the ultimate dessert wine and, perhaps, the most romantic of the bunch. Never sweet in a cloying way, these have a caramelized quality that is absolutely delicious. Avoid pairing these with fare that is sweeter than the wine, as the bubbly will come off harsh and dry. Fresh fruit works best.
  • Blanc de Blanc: This bubbly is made from 100% Chardonnay. The Chardonnay grape lends sparkling wine its toasty, nutty and rich quality.
  • Blanc de Noir: This bubbly is made from mostly Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir grape gives it the refreshing, fruit driven, citrus quality.

Bubbly Add-Ins

Once you’ve chosen your bottle, try a few of these add-ins for customized cocktails. Consider offering the entire selection at your party so guests can choose their favorite flavors.

  • Candied ginger
  • Currants soaked in bitters
  • Pomegranate juice and seeds
  • Berries, muddled with mint
  • Pear juice and a rosemary sprig, like in our Rosemary Pear Bellini
  • Orange or grapefruit juice with a twist
  • Sugared cranberries with a sugar- and black-pepper rimmed glass
  • Fresh pineapple and rosemary for our Pineapple Rosemary Crush Cocktail

Whatever you’re toasting with, here’s to a happy new year!

Category: Holidays, Wine & Beer

 

5 Comments

Comments

george kozitza says ...
Interesting but.....What champagne/sparkling wine is on sale?
12/30/2013 6:41:42 PM CST
davis3ret says ...
Hurry up and come to NH
12/30/2013 10:31:33 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@GEORGE - Our sales will differ between stores. Check with your local store directly to see what they have on sale!
12/31/2013 11:10:10 AM CST
Jane says ...
Thanks for the info. I hope Whole Foods will begin posting for customers which of the wines and champagnes are created without animal derivatives such as gelatin. Love your stores!
12/31/2013 12:00:08 PM CST
Melinda Lober says ...
Looked like some interesting additions to champagne. Love ya, Mom
12/31/2013 12:58:08 PM CST