No two sparkling wines are the same, and even the glasses in which they’re served can be up for discussion. So here are a few things to consider as we approach the top sparkling wine-drinking day of the year…
THE GREAT SWEETNESS DEBATE
Sparkling wines range from bone dry to super sweet, so before you decide to open a bottle, you need to agree on the level of sweetness.
Here are some simple definitions of the most popular styles and/or designations of sparkling wine…
* Brut Nature — The very driest style of Champagne, with less than three grams of residual sugar per liter of wine.
* Extra Brut — Not quite as dry as Brut Nature, with no more than six grams of residual sugar per liter of wine allowed.
* Brut — Probably the most popular style of sparkling wine, with just a hint of sweetness.
* Extra Dry — If Brut is too dry for you but you don’t have a real sweet tooth, this may be the style for you. It’s the style most commonly seen in Italian Prosecco.
* Dry — An ideal aperitif wine, and also works well with salty and/or buttery snacks. (Yes, we’re talking about popcorn!)
* Demi-Sec — A lightly sweet style of sparkling wine, and a great partner for fruit-based desserts.
* Doux — If you love sweets, this wine could be your dessert.
Now that you’re familiar with the designations, you’ll have a much better chance of amicably resolving your next sparkling wine debate.
THE GREAT FLUTE DEBATE
If you watch old westerns on INSP or the CW or TV Land, you’ve probably seen people at the local saloon (when not downing shots of whisky) sipping Champagne out of a shallow, broad-bowled saucer-shaped stemmed glass known as a coupe.
The coupe is said to have been modeled after the left breast of French Queen Marie Antoinette.
The Champagne flute, as is commonly used today, is a relatively recent development. It was created in an effort to preserve the bubbles after the wine is poured in the glass, making the wine almost as much fun to “watch” as it is to drink.
But some suggest that the only way to fully enjoy a sparkling wine is to pour it in the same type of glass — with a wide opening at that top — that you’d use for drinking an opulent red wine. Using such a glass enables one to put their nose deep inside and breathe in the aromas, which translate into flavors on the palate.
The choice is yours: bubbles in a flute, or the full aroma and flavor spectrum in a Bordeaux glass.