On CTV’s Your Morning, we chat about how most people think of sparkling wine as the drink of choice for the holidays.
What’s the difference between champagne and other sparkling wines, and the two you recommend?
Although champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, almost every other region of the country and many other countries around the world produce sparkling wines, often using the same winemaking methods and grapes as champagne.
I have two classic champagnes:
Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne
Champagne A.O.C., France
Veuve Clicquot Champagne
Champagne A.C., France
Both are crisp and refreshing with notes of green apple and freshly baked bread. They’re a blend of grapes — pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay.
Alsace, the region to the southwest of Champagne makes Cremant d’Alsace, like this one from Pierre Sparr, using the same method as Champagne but with the Pinot Blanc grape.
Pierre Sparr Brut Réserve Crémant d’Alsace
Alsace D.O., France
Tell us about the Canadian bubblies you suggest.
Cuvée Catherine from Henry of Pelham is a terrific sparkling wine with aromas of baked bread with a creamy texture and mouthfeel. It’s a rich and satisfying bubbly made from Chardonnay grapes (blanc de blancs).
Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Centenary 2010
Short Hills Bench, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
And this one is called the Centenary because its aged on it’s lees, that’s the spent yeast cells, for one hundred months.
I’d pair these with holiday turkey.
You have an Ontario sparklers to suggest.
Due to warmer climates and style preferences, New World sparklers tend to be fruit-driven compared to the Old World. These are juicy and mouth-watering.
Queenston Mile Vineyard Mile High Sparkling 2018
Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
You could also go with something like a Rosé Sparkling. Peller Ice Cuvee Rose Sparkling is lovely, off-dry sparkling rosé with aromas of field berries and raspberries. This bubbly achieves its sweetness and colour from a dosage of Cabernet Franc Icewine.
Peller Estates Signature Series Ice Cuvée Sparkling Rosé
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
You also have some Italian sparkling wines
Italy produces sparkling wine called prosecco, is a dry, crisp wine, with a vibrantly floral, citrus character. About a third of proseccos are called frizzante; they have a lighter mousse than the majority of proseccos, which are described as spumante, or fully sparkling.
Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco A terrific, zesty, vibrant DOC Prosecco with aromas of golden apple, Asian pear and white peach.
Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco
Veneto D.O.C., Italy
La Marca Prosecco A crisp, dry Italian sparkling wine with notes of lemon zest and lime. What an amazing bubbly for the price. Ideal for celebrations and gifts. They would also pair with turkey or oysters.
La Marca Prosecco
Veneto D.O.C., Italy
They’re also great as a chilled aperitif or as a companion to spicy dishes.
What makes sparkling wine so food-friendly?
It is also one of the most food-friendly of wines, able to pair with ingredients such as eggs, cream, vinegar, olives, spicy dishes, oysters and green vegetables that can overwhelm other wines. Its acidity and effervescence cleanses the palate after each sip.
Try the shabby-chic combination of champagne and potato chips—champagne’s acidity softens the perception of the salt. During holiday celebrations, serve sparkling wine throughout the meal, not just when toasting.
The range of styles also makes sparkling wine a great aperitif, one that whets the appetite (just the sound of the cork popping can get most people salivating).
How do you serve sparkling wine?
Tall, narrow flute glasses preserve the bubbles in each bottle, though I prefer a white wine glass so I can swirl the wine for its aromas. Even though saucer-shaped coupe glasses were molded after Marie Antoinette’s breasts, they allow champagne to go flat. You also want to ensure it’s well-chilled, especially when opening it, about 5-7 degrees celsius. The pressure inside a bottle is about 90 pounds per square inch, the same as city bus tires. That pressure increases if the bottle is warmer, so it’ll fizz all over the place if it’s not well-chilled.
How do you open bubbly?
Opening any sparkling wine requires a special twist, since the pressure inside the bottle is equal to the tires on a city bus. Ensure that the wine is well chilled before opening it: twenty minutes in ice water works best, but three hours in the fridge will do too. Forget those giddy Formula One winners who spray one another—no matter how merry you feel, shaking the bottle before opening it could mean taking out a few tree ornaments, or even an eye. Just remove the foil and wire casing from the top, then keep one hand firmly on the cork while using the other to slowly turn the bottle at its base. The pressure inside the bottle will push the cork out by itself.
How is champagne labeled in terms of sweetness?
Extra brut being the driest, followed by brut, extra sec, sec, demi-sec (semi-sweet) and doux (sweet).
Printed with permission from CTV