Last night, I attended a festive wine dinner with friends put on by Grovewood Tavern & Wine Bar, a well-established eatery in the Cleveland area. Known as a neighborhood joint with good food and an even better wine list, I was pretty excited about the opportunity to sip and sample bubbles and canapes all night long.

While the dinner carried the EU protected name Champagne, most of the wines on the menu were not Champagne at all – fine with me but the title really should have read Bubbles & Canapes. That little faux pas aside, each pairing demonstrated just how easily bubbles can take you through an entire meal.

The evening began with a  glass of Borolomiol Brut Prosecco and a basket of house-made potato chips. Light in body with fruit and floral notes, the wine is dry with crisp acidity to cut through the oil on the chips. Best part. The chips were overly salted making them work perfectly with the scrubbing bubbles. Yum. Proving once again that bubbles and junk food are a great match. Next up, Mas de Monistrol MPX Cava with chilled cantaloupe soup. While I enjoyed the Cava, the vinyl-like aroma that I associate with some Cavas was apparent in the glass. In low doses, this plastic smell can be a  pleasant addition to the overall aroma profile of the wine. In this case, I was reminded of the smell of new babydoll – cute for the holidays but not for wine. The vinyl shower curtain, coupled with the decidedly out-of-season cantaloupe soup (how about a winter squash instead) killed the course for me. Moving on, a fantastic sip of Wegeler Weinguter Brut Riesling Sekt. This was my third encounter with Wegeler’s German bubbles in less than a month (The Wine Theatre at Fabulous Food Show, our Vine-ology Dec meeting and now this dinner) and I continue to love it. Made from 100% Riesling harvested from three regions (Rheingau, Pfalz and Mosel), the wine has a lovely floral nose with a hint of yeasty aromas. Try a flute this holiday season and see for yourself. The Chef at Grovewood paired this soft wine up with a Fried Oyster Rockefeller? For this Sekt, I would have opted for a classic preparation of the same name.

The next four courses featured: Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace (remember, bubbles made in France but outside of the Champagne region must crafted using the traditional method are called Cremant) with crab & chevre empanadas, Schramsberg Mirabelle Rose with Colossal Shrimp Wonton, Champagne Deutz with seared scallop and brussels sprouts chiffonade on puff pastry and Schramsberg Blanc de Noir with beef flank skewer and Gorgonzola cream. The evening ended with Marcarini Moscato d’Asti perfectly paired with a Mascarpone tart and Champagne-poached pears. You gotta love a good Asti and this one was great with the ginger in the mascarpone tart and even better with the pears. Hands down the best pairings of the night were the first and last courses.

Nothing tops a Monday night of food and bubbles off like a glass of Ramos Pinto Tawny Port – and that is exactly what we sipped – under the soft lights of a 10ft Christmas tree in a vintage house with good friends. Thanks Bill.