A strange New Year’s Eve is upon us, one unlike any other in our lifetimes. But one constant remains: The Bubbles Need to Flow!
As many of us will celebrate with just our inner circle of loved ones this year, popping the perfect bottle of champagne or sparkling wine is even more important. I will go on record saying that bubblies should not be relegated only to the celebratory events in our life, but are a perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of other opportunities and will pair with just about any food of which you might dream.
But New Year’s beckons, and with it the anticipatory pop of the bottle and deep hope for a better year in 2021.
So per your spending comfort and particular taste, I will suggest a bottle in multiple categories and from various regions providing us with a shimmering, sparkling glass upon which to toast in the upcoming Gregorian year.
A reminder that not all sparkling wine is champagne, but that all champagne is sparkling wine. To carry the prestigious moniker, the wine must be made in the region of Champagne, France, and with the Méthode champenoise, or “traditional method,” under which champagne is created. A long and very interesting topic, but outside the realm of this column.
Why not begin with the real deal? I recently tasted and this NV Paul Briard Rosé Champagne ($55, 12% ABV, non-mevushal), intrigued by its beautiful salmon color stemming from just a hint (3% to be precise) of Pinot Noir blended with Chardonnay, and was enthralled. On the nose strawberries, yeast, toast. The palate is crisp, with tingly acid, and red fruit. There is a long, tart, and crisp tingly finish.
Cava is made in the same traditional method used in champagne, where the secondary fermentation occurs right inside the bottle. Cava, for its part, is a Denominación de Origen (DO), meaning that it can only be made in certain regions of Spain. I love this NV Elvi Cava Brut ($20, 11% ABV, non-mevushal) which shows a nose of toast, yeast and pear. The palate is nicely citrusy with green notes and good, tart acid. At just a fraction of the cost of Champagne, but for those who want a similar style.
Hailing from Veneto, Italy (as does almost all Prosecco), this NV Contessa Annalisa Prosecco ($12, 11% ABV, mevushal) really gives you a nice “pop for the peso.” Prosecco, using the Charmat, or “tank method,” reduces the cost of production and allows for bubbles on a budget. Made primarily from the Glera grape, Prosecco is somewhat fruitier than its counterparts, with notes of pear, apple, honeysuckle and cream, with a more floral nose. As Prosecco is fermented in a tank, less pressure in the wine results, with lighter bubbles. A fun wine.
American Sparkling Wine:
In America and most elsewhere, including Israel, regardless of the production method utilized, sparkling wine is called “Sparkling Wine.” The NV Herzog Lineage Momentus ($16, 12% ABV, mevushal) offers a less-dry bubbly, with a bright nose of citrus, pear, and some yeast. The palate shows more fruit than the typical bubbly, with pear and citrus, enough sweetness to please those who seek it, and enough acid to keep the glass interesting. Enjoyable wine and a crowd-pleaser.
I always enjoy hearing your thoughts, answering any questions you might have, or just a Shalom! Please tag me in your New Year’s wine posts @kosher.wine.tastings on Instagram.
Happy New Year and l’chaim to a happy, healthy 2021!
Dr. Kenneth Friedman is a Baltimore-born kosher wine aficionado/connoisseur. He is known for his unsolicited wine advice and runs many local kosher wine tastings.