There is something so magical—and fun—about sparkling wine. From the way the cork pops as you open the bottle, and the foam “whooshes” as you pour it into the glass, to the way the bubbles tickle your nose and the roof of your mouth as you drink, sparkling wines have an uncanny ability to make any occasion feel a bit more festive. Even the dreariest day can become a “special occasion” with the addition of a bottle of sparkling wine.
Champagne is of course the king of sparkling wines, and one of the best value in Champagne these days are those from the house of Drappier, which unlike a lot of their competitors, is still family owned and operated. Champagne traditionalists should reach for Drappier’s Carte d’Or, a crisp Pinot Noir driven Champagne, with flavors of apples, grapefruit, toast, and chalk. For a champagne with a modern, feminine twist, try Dappier’s Carte Blanche, a Chardonnay driven Champagne, which has a far more gentle character: Look for flavors and aromas of apples, heather, cream, and honeydew, with a lovely bit of yeastiness.
If the sparkling wines from the Champagne region cost a bit more than you want to spend, there are many excellent and affordable sparkling wines made in Spain, Italy, and other regions of France. For a fun and affordable French sparkler, try Herzog Selection’s Blanc de Blancs, a light and dry wine made from Chenin Blanc, which has wonder peach and pear flavors and aromas. In Spain, the Elvi winery makes Adar Cava, an affordable, Champagne-like wine that has a wonderfully herbaceous bouquet and a crisp fruity flavor.
Italy’s Bartenura Winery, home of the original “blue bottle” Moscato, produces a broad selection of bubbly wines, with one sure to suit every palate. If you like Moscato, you’re going to love Bartenura’s Sparkling Moscato, a straw colored wine, endowed with an abundance of large bubbles, which has the sweet flavor of freshly-picked grapes balanced with the tartness of Meyer-lemons. Bartenura’s Prosecco is a light, dry wine which has the flavors and aromas of apples, lemon, pineapple, and honey, with plenty of tiny bubbles.
If you want add an easy bit of zest to your next party, try serving a sparkling wine punch, such as the Bartenura Prosecco Punch: In a large pitcher add a ¼ cup of superfine sugar, ¼ cup of lemon juice, 2 tbsp. of pineapple juice, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then add in a ¼ cup of Kedem brand Raspberry Syrup, and a handful of ice cubes. Slowly poor in a bottle of Bartenura Proseccco and gently stir. Float a few orange slices on top, and serve in champagne glasses. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Sparkling wines are enjoyed best with friends and family. So as you get ready for you next social gathering, don’t forget bring along a bottle of sparkling wine—it’s a little liquid magic. As always, be safe and drink in moderation.
Jay Buchsbaum is Vice President for Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp.
By Jay Buchsbaum