By Melissa Pulvermacher
As we near the New Year, it’s a time of celebration, family and good times. This often means that we indulge on fine foods and drink the best of the best.
The most popular beverage includes bubbly wine of all kinds. There are so many fantastic options including Italian bubbles, delicious New World sparkling of every style and unique representations from all around the world.
Perhaps the most famous bubbly that comes to mind is Champagne — and I don’t just mean the word the entire world has adopted to describe anything cream coloured or sparkling. I mean the real deal from Champagne, France.
If you’re looking to splurge this season, Champagne can be a wonderful option, but the reality is that there are several producers, several styles and it can be pretty daunting when you’re in the liquor store.
The first thing you need to know is the difference between Brut, Vintage and Prestige Cuvée. The simplest thing to remember about Brut is that, while often describing dosage, it can also be considered most Champagne house’s signature recipe. The non-vintage Brut should be consistent from year to year.
A vintage Champagne will have a single vintage year on the bottle, indicating that your wine has been produced from that specific year. Most vintage Champagnes are a little more expensive as the region does not always experience ideal vintage years, making this wine a rarity.
Most Champagne houses produce a Prestige Cuvée, which is a special, top end product guaranteed to be the most expensive option and usually from the best vintages. The best known example of this would be Moet’s Dom Pérignon.
Some houses choose to age in oak, others only in stainless steel. Some choose to ferment in an oxidative nature honing in on a fuller, nutty character, while others ferment reductive to represent a light and fresh final product.
Learn your palate and do your research.
A new favourite of mine is the Taittinger Brut Reserve.
I had the great pleasure of joining a like-minded group of bubble lovers at the iYellow Wine Club with director and owner Angela Aiello.
As the oysters were being shucked and the Champagne was being popped, the air filled with a nose of fresh baked bread.
On the nose, Taittinger Brut Reserve is sweet with brioche, apricot, lemon zest and honey. As most sparkling wines are more expressive on the palate, the best part is certainly the creamy mousse and notes of green apple, nectarine and honeysuckle flower.
The wine is crisp, refreshing and delightfully easy to drink as the bubbles dance across your tongue.
Another reason Taittinger’s signature house blend has become one of my holiday favourites is because this Champagne retails in the LCBO for $59.95, which is certainly an affordable expression of this elite sparkling wine.
I would personally recommend that you pair this wine with fresh shucked oysters and a room full of dazzling men and women… but that’s just me.
So, where do I want to be for the holidays? Surrounded by Champagne and loved ones raising our glasses and saying cheers to the New Year!
Melissa is an Independent Wine & Spirits Consultant, Sommelier, Feature Wine Columnist and founder of The Vino Enthusiasts Wine Club.
Melissa is educated through The Wine and Spirit Education Trust and is passionate about all things food and wine.