to Choosing Sparkling Wine with the right Glasses for a New Year's Party
You’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party. What bubbles should you buy and which wine glasses should you use?
Here are three of the most popular sparkling wine styles broken down into what they taste like, what budget you will spend, and a couple of suggestions for awe-inspiring wines within the category to impress your friends!
Flavour Profile: lightly fruity showing honeydew melon and white flowers.
Budget: inexpensive basic Prosecco from small family producers such as Vaporetto’s Prosecco Brut No. 8 or spend a few more dollars to buy wine from the hillside appellation of Valdobiaddene such as Valdo’s Valdobiaddene Superiore Marca Oro Prosecco Brut.
For the wine savvy: These more expensive Proseccos come from the esteemed ‘Grand Cru’ of Conegliano Valdobbiadene in particular, the Cartizze hillside. These wines show less fruitiness and exude a distinctive volcanic minerality. Try the Nina Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Cartizze DOCG.
Flavour Profile: lemon peel, overripe apple, biscuit and matchsticks
Budget: start at the inexpensive basic and delicious Cava from Jaume Serra to more depthy and still reasonably priced Riserva Sigura Viudas.
For the wine savvy: Spend a little more for the Brut Heredad Riserva bottling of Sigura Viudas which is plated with silver. The wine is not my style but the bottle will indeed impress your friends and is aged 36 months on lees. For a much richer and cleaner bubbles with apple, toast, brioche and earthy yumminess try the Torelló Gran Torelló ‘Vinyes de Can Marti’ vineyard. This is one of only 12 wines that made the new ‘Grand Cru’ list in the recently formed ‘Cava de Paraje Calificado’
Flavour Profile: tart lemon juice and lemon curd with brioche, light toast and matchsticks
Budget: Premium bottlings only. Lesser known Champagnes from Ployez Jacquemart will save you a few dollars. But the Grand Marques houses of Möet Chandon and Louis Roederer, for example, will cost a little more. The Grand Marques Champagne houses are the generally the most well-known among consumers and will be labelled as ‘Coopérative Manipulant’ on the back.
For the wine savvy: Impress your friends with a lesser-known grower-producer such as Pierre Paillard or Gimmonet et Fils. You can recognize these bottles as they will say RM or Récoltant Manipulant’ on the back label. Otherwise, pick up a ‘Prestige Cuvee’ or top bottling of a Champagne house (Dom Pérignon, Cristal, Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill etc). Ask at your favourite wine shop for their selection.
The flute is a narrow glass designed to keep your bubbles active for the longest. This is the most popular choice for serving sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve.
Pros: A flute’s form is tall, lean and simple. It maintains the bubbles in your wine the longest. This is a recognizable and elegant crystal glass.
Cons: This style is not great for wine aromatics. The glass has too little exposure to oxygen for releasing wine aromas. You also can’t swirl this glass to help release the aromas. Ask yourself this, ‘It’s New Year’s Eve, do I care?’
The vintage flute
Vintage flutes are a crystal glasses that are quite tapered at the top and are fashioned exclusively for vintage sparkling wine and Champagne. Vintage sparkling wine are wines where all the grapes for the wine are picked in one year. They are made in limited quantities. The vintage (year) will be listed on the front label of the wine. These wines are generally aged for longer before release and meant to be kept even longer in your cellar.
Because they are aged, they show more créme brûlée, lemon custard and toast characteristics and are really meant to be sniffed slowly and reflected on.
Pros: This glass makes you look cool. It’s slim enough to maintain the bubbles in your wine and the slightly wider top should allow you to smell some of the developed aromatics of an aged wine.
Cons: However, it’s not THAT great for wine aromatics in reality. Vintage Champgane flutes still have too little exposure to oxygen for releasing wine aromas and you still can’t swirl the wine.
The white wine glass
It’s now de riguer to serve sparkling wine in a white wine glass. Make sure the glass slightly tapers at the top.
Pros: A wider glass exposes a larger wine surface to oxygen for optimal aromatics. Wine savvy people will adore you for this.
Cons: The bubbles won’t last as long in this glass so pour only a little at a time. Most people will think you just don’t have any ‘proper’ slim Champagne glasses, so make sure you let them know why you are serving their bubbles this way!
Cons: The bubbles won’t last as long. Because you can’t swirl (or walk, or move) without spilling the contents, these glasses are only good for sitting at a bar. Despite the wide surface area exposure, they are not great for enjoying the aromatics of the wine.
Happy New Year!
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* There was no payment for the writing of this post. However, Wines of Argentina did graciously host me for a trip to Argentina in 2016.That’s where I gained a new appreciation for Malbec and all its many faces 🙂