Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Bottles of sparkling wines
You’ve Pinterest-ed the perfect menu and secured your favorite relatives’ elusive RSVPs, but what’s going to fill Grandma’s heirloom gold-rimmed goblets? Melissa Surdyk (fourth generation Surdyk at Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop) has just the thing, and it’s a doozy. Say it with us now: sparkling wine.
Beyond familiar fizzy friends like Champagne (which is just one type of sparkling wine, made with grapes and processes specific to the Champagne region of France) and Cava (an affordable Spanish sparkler often used in mimosas), sparkling wines aren’t all that well known. But they should be. That little bit of carbon dioxide makes everything infinitely more fun. Plus, there are bubbly beauties at just about every price point, from just about every wine-growing region, and ranging from dry to sweet and everywhere in between.
Here are three solid reasons to explore the wonderful world of effervescent wine:
“Sparkling wine is not only a good choice, it’s the best choice,” Surdyk asserts. We can totally get that. For starters, there’s the obvious festive factor. “It ups the festivity-meter with a simple pop of the cork,” she explains. “Open a bottle of bubbly and watch the room completely light up.” The flavor, the ceremony, the fizz—it’s a crowd-pleaser.
No need to worry about last-minute menu changes (or potluck contributions) cramping your pairing style, sparkling goes with just about every texture and flavor, even if you’re serving something nontraditional. “Crunchy, salty, creamy, spicy, earthy—it all works beautifully,” says Surdyk.
Bubbly wines have an extremely tiny margin of pairing error, she adds. “There is a far greater chance of food-pairing success with sparkling wine than with any other style, especially if you’re unsure about the menu.” Sweetness in sparkling wine is measured from Extra Brut (driest) to Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux (sweetest). Chances are if you stay within those general preferences, you’ll be just fine.
You can afford the good stuff
This is true because it’s all good stuff, says Surdyk. Throwing a party for 100 of your closest friends? Pick up a case of affordable Spanish Cava. Hosting an intimate dinner party? Splurge on a spendy bottle of Champagne.
“More and more, we are seeing our customers do as the Europeans do—choosing bubbly as the evening's featured beverage,” Surdyk explains. European or no, enjoy sparkling wine all year long with these picks at every price point:
Segura Viudas Brut (Cava, Spain) $10.99
Affordable and tasty, Spanish Cava can be served on its own at a party with a spread of appetizers or used to make mimosas. Not feeling like a party? No problem, says Surdyk. “Pop this open with a bag of potato chips and call it a day.” (Hey, sounds like a party to us!)
Saint Hilaire Brut (Blanquette de Limoux, France) $17.49
Claiming to have been around before Champagne, the makers of this Blanquette de Limoux have created a wine with an enticing nose and delicate bubble that pairs brilliantly with cheese plates—especially those that include something gooey like Brillat Savarin (a soft, French cow’s milk cheese).
Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Saint Anne (Merfy, Champagne, France) $45.99
A grower-made Champagne from a tiny, family-owned estate. Elegant aromatics and notes of pear, apple, and chalk will pair brilliantly with a winter dish like a mushroom risotto with truffle oil.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve (Mareuil-sur-Ay, Champagne, France) $59.99
This estate has been family-owned for six generations. Scents of a French bakery lead to complex notes of white flowers and stone fruit, all carried by a fine bubble.