One can only hope that the brut winter weather of 2014 is finally over, but dare we utter the word “spring?” Most of us have a fear of jinxing the mild weather when it arrives by declaring spring has sprung – especially if you live anywhere in the north to central eastern part of the country. Crazy weather patterns and polar vortex influences have wreaked havoc on our faith in predicting the forecast. That said, given the choice of glass half full or empty – I am opting for full. Better yet. I am filling it with bubbles!
Brut level sparkling wines offer a festive way to celebrate the flavors of spring. From strawberry & asparagus filled salads to citrus glazed lamp chops, the crisp acidity and lemony flavors of brut bubbles will make you palate zing. Those with a hint of sweetness make perfect aperitif wines when paired up with salty appetizers or spicy deviled eggs.
While we all know that Champagne is the king of bubbles, knowing what to look for on the label will help you make the correct bubble selection for your palate and menu. Here’s a few pointers:
- Only bubbles from the Champagne region of France may be called Champagne. Beautiful examples include Taittinger & Moёt Chandon making Champagne in France, as well as sparkling wine in California. If they are crafted in France but outside of the Champagne region, they are called cremant. Look for beautiful cremant wines from Alsace. Lucien Albretcht is simply one of my favorites and a staple in my home.
- The word “brut” on the label is an indication that the wine is on the drier side. If you prefer a bit of sweetness to “smooth” out the wine, look for bubbles with the term “extra-dry” on the label. While it seems counterintuitive, extra-dry is actually sweeter than brut. Technically, brut is so dry that is is “brutish” on your palate.
- A fun and festive starter wine that offers yummy bubbles at a lower price is Prosecco from Italy. Balanced acid with perhaps a hint of sweetness, this wine is lower in alcohol making it a great wine to serve early in the night or for brunch. Canella Prosecco di Conegliano and Zardetto Prosecco di Conegliano are good choices.
- Interested in bubbles for dessert or those made in a sweeter style for easy sipping? Try Moscato D’Asti crafted from the Muscat grape. Low in alcohol and fruity in flavor, this wine has lots of lip-smacking sweetness making it a perfect pairing for springtime desserts such as strawberry short cake, fruit salad or a simple sugar cookie. Elio Perrone, Vietti, and Piazzo are reliable producers.