• Your Hunter Valley Magazine

Sparkling Wines to Celebrate With!


No matter what the occasion, nothing says 'celebration' like a bottle of bubbles.

Of all the wine styles, sparkling wine perhaps intrigues us the most. It is the ultimate party-starter and all-round crowd-pleaser and fits comfortably in a wide range of situations and events. Since the late 1600's, Champagne or sparkling wine has been the most prestigious celebratory wine in the world, and as we roll into the festive season, you can be sure that we will soon all be hearing the "popping" of corks as bottles of sparkling wine are opened to celebrate putting 2020 behind us and welcoming in the new year. But not all sparkling wines are Champagne, and not all sparkling wines are made the same way.


Champagne is a regionally protected name and can only be produced in the Champagne region of France. It can also only be produced in one way, and that is in a bottle using natural fermentation known as the Traditional Method (or Méthode Traditionnelle) and using only three grape varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.


Sparkling wines produced in other regions of France as well as other countries around the world are often referred to by their local name or region, such as Espumante from Portugal, Cava from Spain, or Asti from Italy (the generic Italian term for sparkling wine being Spumante) to name a few.


SO, WHAT IS SPARKLING WINE?

When it comes down to it, Sparkling wine is simply wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy. The carbon dioxide may result from natural fermentation – either in a bottle, as with the Traditional Method, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of carbon dioxide injection.

Sparkling wine is usually white or rosé, but there are many examples of sparkling red wines as well.


In Australia, most sparkling wine is produced from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and is usually white or Rosé, but an Australian speciality is the Sparkling Shiraz – a sparkling red wine made from Shiraz grapes. Young examples are typically refreshing, rich, fruity, and juicy with a touch of sweetness. Older examples are generally rich and lush in style, and some high-quality bottles are suitable for cellaring and ageing. The sweetness of sparkling wine can range from very dry "brut" styles to sweeter "doux" varieties.


Although wonderful on its own, when it comes to food, sparkling white wine is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed with just about any meal. These wines have the perfect balance of dryness, acidity, bubbles and fruitiness to enrich any dining experience and excellent when paired with shrimp and shellfish, smoked salmon, caviar, oysters, triple cream brie and fruit-based desserts such as tarts, crepes and any buttered or honeyed dessert.


Sparkling Rosé is the most versatile sparkling wine for food pairings. That is because these styles tend to have a remarkable depth of flavour, but powerful acidity too making them perfect for smoked salmon, roasted white meats, rich fish, or chocolate-covered berries. Brie and prosciutto are also fantastic with a lovely Rosé and even better when combined.


A perfect sparkling wine for the festive season, the uniquely Australian sparkling Shiraz is fantastic with glazed Christmas ham and depending on how sweet the style, can be paired with pastries and desserts.


HOW TO SERVE SPARKLING WINE

Temperature is key here. Sparkling wine is best served cold – so keep it well-refrigerated. Even better, chill your sparkling wine for 15-20 minutes in an ice bucket before serving, and keep it in the bucket between pours.


As for glassware, stick with a classic Champagne flute. Not only will the thin neck keep the contents cool, but the narrow opening also acts to retain aromas and funnels the bubbles.


It is the holiday season and therefore a time to indulge and give the gift of indulgence too. Whether you are bringing a bottle to a party or leaving one under the tree, a bottle of bubbles is a gift that will please even the hardest-to-shop-for curmudgeon. So, no matter what the purpose or what gatherings and celebrations you have coming up, you are bound to find the perfect bottle of bubbles amongst our Sparkling Dozen here to help the occasion truly sparkle.


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©2018-2020 Your Hunter Valley Magazine. Created by WCP Media. PO BOX 165 CHARLESTOWN NSW 2290. info@wcpmedia.com.au