Bob G

Sparkling Wine

6 posts in this topic

Yes, lets talk about something else. The world is crumbling about our heads, idiots abound, the barbarians are at the gates. Let’s have some wine!

Specifically, sparkling wine. Bubbles and giggles! (Well, yes, let’s sing too, and…. Where are the women?????)

My first thought is that sparkling wine is wine, real wine. I don’t want to use those breast shaped glasses (supposedly based on Marie Antoinette’s breast). And no, I don’t want the flutes. I like the flute shaped glass. It looks neat. But you can’t get your nose in it. You can’t get at the flavors as well as you can with a wine glass. Some of the French Champagne houses have designed their own stems, which are expensive. So, for now, I use my normal stem.

But, here is the real problem, for most of us. People think of sparkling wine as a “celebration” wine, and seldom actually drink it as wine. Further, so often, the stuff people buy is really bad. Ugh. Celebrating with a bad wine, how sad is that.

On the other hand, these days I am not buying $40 bottles of red for really wonderful dinners. I need good, inexpensive wine. Since I am talking about sparkling wine, I need inexpensive sparklers.

Most people think of Cava when they think of inexpensive sparkling wine. Again, ugh! I have not tasted a Cava I thought had any redeeming value (too bad for even an alcoholic purpose, if that purpose has any acceptable value). If you know of a Cava of any price that is good, I’d like to hear about it.

I have found that almost any sparkler at any price from France is worth drinking. The least cost there was $12, maybe more now with the fall of the dollar. Sparkling Burgundy, sparkling Vouvray, sparkling French whatever are good.

Prosecco is also well worth drinking, even though it is becoming so popular. Not every fad is worth rejecting. It tends to be low priced. Trader Joe has one for $7.99 that is very good.

The cheapest good one that I have found is made by Albero in Spain. They call it a White Sparkling Wine. (They also make a Cava, which I don’t like.) Buy it at Trader Joes for $4.99! Drink it every week!

I drink a lot of sparkling with food. I drink the Albero with fish and lots of other things. Drink a Champagne with a steak! Not a blanc de blanc, but a blanc de noirs, or one with lots of Pinot Noir in it!

What is your favorite?

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Australian sparkling wines are good value. By the way, it drives me to distraction when people don't hold the wine glass by the stem. The stem is there to prevent the hand warming and smearing the glass which is to remain clean to show the wine off. For too many people, it is looking through a dirty window contaminated by finger prints. Don't touch the glass.

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Most of the wine I drink is sparkling wine. For normal situations and low prices, I've found the best to be from Spain. I can't recall ever having anything very bad from there, and Trader Joe's used to carry some that was pretty amazing for its $5 price tag, though I haven't seen it there for years, and am having trouble dredging up the name from memory.

I've had some decent sparkling wine from France, but have also found that my chances are about 50/50 that it will be terrible, presumably because I try the inexpensive ones.

With one recent exception (Astoria Lounge Prosecco del Veneto) anything else I've ever had from Italy has been too sweet for my taste. I recently bought some cheap Italian stuff from TJ's that was remarkably bad, Le Grotte Lambrusco. Three people tasted it before we poured it down the drain. It wasn't normal sparkling wine anyway, but lightly fermented, with bubbles sort of like those that appear in some naturally sparkling bottled water. Nice gentle sparkle, but terrible taste.

I'd love to try some sparkling wine from Australia, though I don't remember ever seeing any, though I'll now try harder to look for it. I buy the tawny port from the Australian vineyard, Hardy's, the best inexpensive tawny ($15 - $20) I've had. I'm sure I've had good non-bubbly wine from Australia, though I'm not recalling specific names.

For special occasions, sparkling wines that are readily available: Dom Perignon ^ $100, Veuve Clicquot ~ $50, Schramsberg Blanc de Noir ~ $30 (great for the price IMO), and I don't know current prices, but other good ones I've had are Moet & Chandon, Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, and there's a vineyard whose sparkling wine I have never yet tried, but would like to, Pommery -- it was good enough for Tracy Lord, so... :P

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Most of the wine I drink is sparkling wine. For normal situations and low prices, I've found the best to be from Spain. I can't recall ever having anything very bad from there, and Trader Joe's used to carry some that was pretty amazing for its $5 price tag, though I haven't seen it there for years, and am having trouble dredging up the name from memory.

I've had some decent sparkling wine from France, but have also found that my chances are about 50/50 that it will be terrible, presumably because I try the inexpensive ones.

With one recent exception (Astoria Lounge Prosecco del Veneto) anything else I've ever had from Italy has been too sweet for my taste. I recently bought some cheap Italian stuff from TJ's that was remarkably bad, Le Grotte Lambrusco. Three people tasted it before we poured it down the drain. It wasn't normal sparkling wine anyway, but lightly fermented, with bubbles sort of like those that appear in some naturally sparkling bottled water. Nice gentle sparkle, but terrible taste.

For special occasions, sparkling wines that are readily available: Dom Perignon ^ $100, Veuve Clicquot ~ $50, Schramsberg Blanc de Noir ~ $30 (great for the price IMO), and I don't know current prices, but other good ones I've had are Moet & Chandon, Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, and there's a vineyard whose sparkling wine I have never yet tried, but would like to, Pommery -- it was good enough for Tracy Lord, so... :P

TJ does have some good Spanish bubbly from Spain for $4.99, made by Albero.

What other Spanish bubbly have you had that you liked?

The $6.99 Prosecco from TJ I also like. I agree that the spumante and lambrusco is too sweet, at least for me.

I also agree about the more expensive French sparkling. I had saved two vintage Champagnes for years and years. I just drank them this year. Wow. I need to make more money!

Rose, I am so impressed with your post. You drink mostly sparkling and a ref to Tracy Lord!! What Class!!

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Champagne is my "water" of choice!! :P

Being far less complex and less aggressively effervescent than Champagne, I find that Prosecco is the perfect choice as an aperitif, and those from the Valdobbiadene are the best for my taste given their almost yeasty, excellently dry quality (I loathe "sweet" wines of any variety -- so Lambrusco and similar stuff is out). In addition, there's nothing quite so satisfying as a glass or three of icy Prosecco on a hot summer's day, especially when enjoyed in the Italian manner, in a small stemless tumbler or simple white wine glass. When sparkling wine is enjoyed this way, I also have no objections to some of the Spanish Cavas, such as Freixenet's Cordon Negro Brut, or even a Sonoma like Korbel Brut or Blanc de Noirs. Depending on where one lives, a good Prosecco or Cava/Sonoma sparkling generally costs in the $12 to $20 range.

As for Champagne, I have become particularly fond of those from Nicolas Feuillatte for general occasions (particularly the rich mouthful of that label's Rose), though I've never been known to turn down a glass (crystal flutes or tulips, please!) of the "fatter" Veuve Clicquot or Pol Roger, two of my other favorites in this class of the French. I second the recommendation of the American Schramsberg, though I much prefer the lightness and elegance of that label's Blanc de Blancs which is quite similar in style to the non-vintages from Nicolas Feuillatte. These wines generally run in the $27 (Feuillatte Non-Vintage) to $45-$50 range.

For very, very special occasions (and when my wallet is sufficiently stuffed, i.e., not so often), I enjoy the Krug vintages and, even more, the vintage Roederer Cristal. The hard-to-find vintage Rose from Roederer -- perhaps the Champagne of Champagnes -- is an extraordinary experience: such an exquisite color, dry but with oodles and oodles of fruit (the predominant grape in Pinot Noir). It is something anyone who enjoys Champagne should try at least once in his life, I think. It won't come cheap though . . . these wines retail (when available) from around $250-$350 (if you're lucky) and, if you prefer to enjoy them in a restaurant, run from $750-$1,000 and up depending on the vintage!

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