Asked when she drank Champagne, Lily Bollinger, the “Grand Dame” of Champagne, replied: “I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” While Lily apparently had more than her share of sparkling wine, the rest of us tend to reserve it for celeb-rations of the human spirit, both somber and joyous. The celebration of family and friends always draws us to flutes of sparkling wine during the holiday season. The festive pop of the cork, the twinkling bubbles, and the clink of the glasses turn get-togethers into occasions. While Champagne is arguably the most famous sparkling wine, it accounts for only a fraction of the sparkling wine available. Sparkling wine is produced all over the world. Every country has its own traditions as to how the wine is made, what grapes are used and what it is called. While all of these wines have bubbles in common, many are extraordinarily different from one another.
There are a variety of inexpensive sparkling wines available for your holiday celebrations; below are a couple of examples, both quite good, for under $20. The La Marca is an excellent example of the off-dry Italian sparkling wine known as Prosecco. The Cristalino is a very popular Spanish Cava, made from Chardonnay and traditional Spanish grape varieties.
La Marca Prosecco D.O.C.-Italy
Sparkling Wine – Prosecco
Notes: On the nose the wine brings fresh citrus with hints of honey and white floral notes. The flavor is fresh and clean, with ripe citrus, lemon, green apple, and touches of grapefruit, minerality and toast. The finish is light, refreshing and crisp.
A Sweet White - Cost: $$ out of $$$$$
Cristalino Brut Cava-Spain
Blended Sparkling Wine - macabeo, parellada, xarello and Chardonnay
Notes: Pear, green apple, peach, tropical fruit, citrus, mineral, flinty and subtle spice and butterscotch. Generally full bodied and dry.
A Drier White - Cost: $ out of $$$$$