It’s All About the Bubbles

It’s time to break out the bubbly! This is the time everyone dusts off their champagne flutes & coupes and pops open a cork or two to celebrate the season.While sparkling wine should certainly be a staple at any holiday party, I would encourage you to keep the corks popping all year long and discover some amazing pairings that will leave you wondering why you didn’t always have a bottle of bubbly on hand.

One of my favorite things about sparkling wine is how versatile it is with a wide range of foods which makes it the ultimate wine to have on hand for your next gathering.

I love to add a little bit of class to bar food. Everything from wings to chips to charcuterie has a perfect sparkling pairing. I love the way a great glass of bubbles acts like a squeeqee and cleanses the palate in between bites. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

Here you will find a few tips and a shopping guide to help take the mystery out of selecting that perfect bottle for your next celebration.

Let’s begin with the dryness scale for sparkling wine.  This will help you make a more educated decision and pick something that’s best suited for your palate.
Extra Brut/Grand Brut/Brut Zero – This label is going to be the driest end of the spectrum.  Typically these bone dry sparklings are best paired with food because of the bright acidity.  The following go in order from the next driest to the very sweetest:
  • Brut
  • Extra Dry
  • Dry
  • Sec
  • Demi-Sec
  • Doux
If you are new to sparkling wines, go for an extra dry. If you like your wine a little sweeter, go with a Demi-Sec. For a
great Demi-Sec pairing, grab a baguette, slice it about 1/4 inch thick, add gorgonzola, prosciutto and fig spread and voila you have an instant crowd pleaser!
Here are some great bubbles for every price point. Cheers!
Inexpensive: (Under $20)
  • Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut, Loire Valley, France – $12 
  • Montelliana Prosecco, DOC, Veneto, Italy – $12
  • Gruet Demi-Sec, Albuquerque, New Mexico – $16
  • Allimant Laugner Cremant d’Alsace Rose, Alsace, France – $18
  • Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy – $20 (Perfect w/chocolate) 
  • Segura Viudas Cava, Brut Reserva Heredad, Spain – $20
  • Thibaut-Jannison, Blanc de Chardonnay, Charlottesville, Virginia – $20
Mid-Price: ($21-$40)
  • Trump Blanc de Blanc, Monticello, Virginia – $25 
  • J Brut Rose, Sonoma, California – $32
  • Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Napa, California – $38
  • Perrier Jouet, Grand Brut, Champagne, France  – $38
Premium: ($41-$60)
  • Nicolas Feuillatte Brut, Champagne, France 
  • Schramsberg Brut Rose, Napa, California – $42
  • Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial $48 
  • Bollinger Brut, Special Cuvee, Champagne, France – $60 
Veuve RoseSplurge ($60-100)
  • 2004 Laurent-Perrier Brut Millésimé Champagne, France – $60 
  • Veuve Clicquot “Ponsardin” Brut Rose $65
  • Pommery Brut, NV, Champagne, France – $70
Grand DameWhen you’re looking for the something over the top! ($100 & Over)
  • 1998, Veuve Cliquot, Le Grand Dame -$130
  • Dom Perignon, NV, Champagne, France – $135
  • 2005, Roederer Cristal, Champagne, France – $200



Super Bowl Bubbles

Beer may be the beverage of choice at many Super Bowl parties, but I wouldn’t rule out bubbles for the big game.  Believe me, the ladies will be more than thankful!  Sparkling wines are versatile, boast nice acidity and help cleanse the palate. They add a touch of class to bar food and work great with everything from chips to buffalo wings to crab dip.

Since we are celebrating an American past time, here’s a list of my top 5 American sparkling wines under $35:

  1. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Napa, California ($32)
  2. Thibaut-Jannison Blanc de Chardonnay, Charlotteville, Virginia ($28)
  3. Trump Blanc de Blanc, Charlottesville, Virginia ($25)
  4. Gruet Brut, New Mexico ($16)
  5. Gloria Ferrer Brut, Sonoma, California  ($20)

There are also some great still wines that make perfect pairings with your favorite pigskin treats. Here are a few ideas that I hope will help inspire your game day menu!

  • Guacamole – Pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc and if you like it extra spicy try a Riesling instead.  A dry sparkling would also do the trick!  Check out the Kim Crawford or Ponga Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand for under $15.
  • Crab & Artichoke Dip – This creamy delight calls for a wine with high acidity and crisp finish like a Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.  An unoaked Chardonnay would also work well. Check out the Chatham Vineyards Church Creek Steel Chardonnay from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  The Hendry Pinot Gris and the Tiamo Pinot Grigio are budget friendly wines under $15.
  • Hot Wings – I love adding a little class to bar food by pairing hot wings with a nice sparkling wine like Brut Champagne. If you’re looking for a budget friendly alternative, check out a Cava from Spain. The Dibon Cava & Rondell are both nice party wines under $10.
  • Chili – I will admit Chili has to be one of the hardest dishes on the planet to pair with wine.  If the chili has a nice balance with a rustic depth of flavor not too much heat, a big, bold, jammy Zin would be a nice choice.  If you’re going for the knock your socks off kind of heat that will make a grown man cry, you may want to stick with an ice cold beer!
  • Potato Chips & Dip – I love the way a nice sparkling balances the saltiness of the chips. This is a must try!
  • Short Rib Sliders w/Bacon Bleu Slaw – This has to be one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures and game time treats.  This hearty crowd pleaser calls for a big bold Zinfandel. I really like the Sobon Estate Fiddletown Zinfandel and the Predator Zinfandel for budget friendly options. A nice meaty Syrah would also be a nice match.
  • Meat Lovers Pizza – There are many options for a hearty pizza including a Zinfandel, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Barbera, Chianti or a Vino Nobile.
  • Prosciutto wrapped asparagus w/balsamic glaze – Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.