Champagne, Sparkling Wines are the Little Black Dress of Wines
Every woman has that dress, that outfit that she can wear to any occasion. It is the little black dress. She can wear it to the office. Dress it up and she can wear it on date night. It is versatile and never lets her down. Sparkling wine is equally versatile. You can serve it at any celebration. You can serve sparkling wine with fried chicken or simply sip it while watching your favorite movie. A sparkling wine will never let you down.
But, why? Why do sparkling wines complement most foods? There is not a single reason or a scientific theory that I know of. Consider a couple of factors.
Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti, and other sparkling wines and made from different vintage wines. The vintage is the year the wine is produce. Winemakers use the higher quality wines pressed from each year and combine the pressings to create cuvée sparkling wines. Each year’s wines have unique characteristics and qualities, regardless if the grape is the same. For example, there are differences between a 2015 Chardonnay and a 2016 which makes each distinguishing.
A buffet of flavors, and characteristics are on display when you bring the best of the best together. Mr. Chris Hallowell, a wine and spirit journalist, explains the blending process well. Hallowell said, “most bottles are blended from different vintage wines, resulting in a cuvée that’s greater than the sum of its parts; they tend to showcase minerality, a characteristic that adds depth to fruity, savory, meaty, and gamy flavors; and these wines possess an unparalleled acidity that cuts through rich, fatty dishes and surmounts even high-acid ingredients such as tomatoes or vinegars”, in an Epicurious article. Food pairing becomes simpler and less exacting when the wine possess broader traits.
All Rules Apply
There are a few rules that prevail when you are pairing food with wine. These rules eliminate what kinds of wine that should not be paired with certain foods. This makes the wine selection process easier. For example, opposite flavors with opposite flavors. You can pair spicy Thai food with semi-sweet Riesling. When you follow this rule, it eliminates bold, rich reds like Malbec from your selection. Most importantly, you save your mouth from experiencing a three-alarm fire.
All food pairing rules apply to sparkling wines. Use our earlier example, opposite flavors with opposite flavors. Pair the same spicy Thai food with a Sec or Demi-Sec sparkling wine. A Sec or Demi-Sec are semi-dry wines. These wines have a slightly high sweet taste, lower alcohol and reduce the “heat” level impression.
You often hear red wines with red meat. They are complementary flavors. Tannin, found in red wine, will “cut” through the fat and salt in red meat, and not overwhelm the meal. Interestingly sparkling wines are not high in tannin, although many Champagnes are made with red grapes like Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Shiraz. Sparkling wines have similar relationships with fatty, salty foods. Potato chips, French fries, anything wrapped in bacon, or short ribs are good combos with Brut or Extra Dry sparkling wines. The sparkling wine acidic level brings balance. The food is less salty and fatty on the palate.
Tonight, try a sparkling wine with your meal. Do not save the bubbles of milestone events. Every day is a celebration. You something new!
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How Much Wine Do You Serve At A Wedding Reception
There are so many decisions a bride and groom have to make for the wedding reception. Plated dinner or buffet, band or DJ, open or cash bar are just a few of questions they have to answer? Our guide to “How Much Wine Do You Serve At A Wedding Reception” will hopefully help you when you are stocking your bar for your wedding reception.
1) Wine, Beer & Spirits: Your decision on how much wine to serve should be based on whether you are serving other alcoholic beverages. It is common for only beer and wine to be served. Believe it or not, your guests will drink more beer than wine. Three bottles of beer to everyone 1 glass will be served. Sixty percent of your guests will drink beer.
Signature cocktails are among the latest trends at receptions. Whether you decide to have a signature cocktail or a fully stock bar, your guests’ wine consumption is less than 40 percent. Beer consumption drops significantly. Guests consume 35% wine, 20 % beer, and 45% cocktails.
2) Wine Consumption: You should plan to serve one glass of wine for each hour of the reception. An 750 ml bottle contains approximately 5 glasses of wine. Here is a simple formula when Beer and wine are served:
4 hours Reception and 100 guests
- 40 guests (only 40% of guests will drink wine) x 1 glass per hour = 40 glasses
- 40 glasses x 4 hours = 160 glasses
- 160 glasses / 5 glasses = 32 bottles of wine
3) Time of Year /Indoor & Outdoor Wedding: Red and white wine will equally be consumed at an indoor wedding and during winter, spring and fall weddings. However, white and sparkling wines consumption will be greater during summer or outdoor weddings. People find white and sparkling wines refreshing during warmer weather. Sixty percent of white and sparkling wines and 40% red wine should be served at your bar. This recommendation does not take in consideration the meal served. You should also plan your wine and meal pair in your wine calculations.
4) Champagne/Sparkling: Sparkling wine (Champagne, Prosecco, etc.) is mainly used for toasting the bride and groom. Two glasses of sparkling wine per guest is the standard. You can pour 6 glasses of sparkling wine from a standard 750ml bottle. You get more glasses per bottle out of sparkling wine because of the bubbles and the shape of the champagne flute. So here is an example calculation:
- 100 guests x 2 glasses each = 200 glasses
- 200 glasses / 6 glasses per bottle = ~34 bottles
Now that you know how much wine you will serve. Wish you all the best in planning your dream wedding.
Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine
|Champagne, Sparkling Wine|
|The other day a friend and me were talking about New Year’s Eve. She said, “Should I serve Champagne or sparkling wine”? My immediate response was, “Champagne is a form of sparkling wine. It all depends upon what you like.” She gave me a puzzled look, and said “oh ok.” Thinking about my response I should have provided a better explanation. I realized she did not know Champagne is among the sparkling wine family. She thought Champagne is different from sparkling wine. Champagne has become the brand name for requesting sparkling wine. It is like when you ask someone to hand you a Kleenex®. You are really asking for a tissue and not the brand Kleenex®. The brand name has been ingrained in everyday vernacular.
Champagne has very distinctive characteristics, fermentation methods, and regional restrictions. Here is the Reader’s Digest® version about Champagne. Champagne is made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. There is a double fermentation method known as Methode Champenoise. Lastly,and most importantly to the French and legally, only sparkling wine produced in the La Champagne region can be called Champagne (except for a few California vineyards. That is another blog).
Now you know, what do you serve? You have a variety of sparkling wines to select. In addition to Champagne, there are other sparkling wines styles like Cava and Prosecco. Cava is from Spain. Prosecco is from Italy. Each of these regions have unique grapes that make up the composition of these wines.
Regardless of the country, there are common descriptions you will see on the label. Here are the most common:
Your sparkling wine does not have to be international. When you are in your local wine store ask for Maryland sparkling wine. It is not too late for the wine shop to order it from the vineyard.
Best Wines for Thanksgiving
Regardless if you are hosting or you going to someone’s home you are probably trying to decide what wine should be paired with dinner. People frequently ask, “What is the perfect wine to serve with Thanksgiving meal?” Answer: There isn’t a perfect wine. There are so many rich and varying flavors, it is impossible to select just one wine. However there are wines that pair better with thanksgiving. What are the best wines for Thanksgiving?
Start at your local fine wine store. Wine stores offer wine tastings on a weekly or daily basis during the holiday season. You can call or go on their website to find out what days the tastings are available. These tastings are often free. The store will pour between 4 to 6 wines. This is great opportunity for you to try different varietals.
Bring your dinner menu with you. The wine representative can offer suggestions on what to pair with the wine. You may find your new favorite wine.
If the store is not offering a tasting, you still may have an opportunity to try an instore tasting. You may ask the sales person to uncork the wine you are serious about purchasing. Some stores will uncork the bottle for you.
If you cannot attend an instore tasting, there are no fail wine selection tips you can employee.
TIP #1 – Go with sparkling wine. Everyone likes a sparkling wine (well almost everyone). Sparkling wine is the most versatile wine. It is the little black dress of the wine world; it is good for any occasion. It can be paired with almost any meal. Try a dry sparkling wine, a brut, with your meal and a demi-sec, sweeter sparkling with dessert. Great Shoals, 2012 Cuvee Blanc Sparkling Wine, is a Maryland sparkling that is a blend of Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc in a brut style. It is a great way to begin your meal.
TIP #2 – Some like white, some like red, offer both. Rarely will all your guests like only white wine or only red. Offer them a choice. You will look like a very sophisticated host.
TIP #3 – Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Albarĩno are great complements to side dishes. Stay away from oaky Chardonnay; it can overwhelm your meal. You can locate Albarĩno at local vineyards like Black Ankle Vineyard and Serpent Ridge.
TIP #4 – Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel complements your hearty and savory dishes. You also can try red blends. Red wine blends, like Meritage and Bordeaux, are excellent with turkey legs and dark meat.
Have a very, very safe and happy Thanksgiving! Vino 301 Wine Concierge is thankful for your continued support and we wish you well during this holiday season. Cheers!
Vino 301 Wine Concierge’s first endeavor was a self-guided tour of Maryland’s vineyards and wineries. For a flat fee, a person could go to all of the participating wineries across Maryland and enjoy a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres. Great project … right? Well, not so much. Vino 301 just started and no one knew who we were. No one was interested in taking a chance on a new company. It was a challenge convincing vineyard owners to take a chance on us.
There was one vineyard that stood out during that time. They were fairly new too. They just opened their tasting room and were abundantly cautious about participating in our project. They had their own woes of being a new business. Several calls were placed; selling the merits of this endeavor to the General Manager, Drew Baker. Mr. Baker finally agreed to Old Westminster Winery participating. I would love to say the event was a huge success. It wasn’t and we had to cancel it. However, it was the beginning of partnership between our organizations.
What a difference three years makes. Since that time, Old Westminster Winery has grown and experienced tremendous success. Old Westminster officially opened a newer and grander new tasting room earlier in this month. “It looked like someone’s home, with a huge front porch and beautiful lights, just begging you to come in and have a drink”, is how someone described Old Westminster’s newly opened tasting room. The building is airy with vaulted ceilings, and plenty of space to socialize. Outside is beautifully landscaped. Most of the construction was completed by the family, which is not surprising. Old Westminster Winery is synonymous with family. Each member of the Baker family contributes to the success of the vineyard.
Old Westminster is a must visit. You can bring a picnic with you, but they do have food to purchase. You are always greeted by warm and friendly people, who are extremely knowledgeable about the wines they are pouring. The staff is always happy to answer any questions you have, even the geeky questions, like what was the growing elevation for these grapes. On the weekends, they have live entertainment.
Most importantly, you have to sample the wine. Old Westminster is known for its award winning wines. Our new favorite is the 2014 Farmer Fizz. Just in time for the holidays. It is a sparkling wine. Chardonnay-dominated blend. It has crisp apple and citrus flavors, followed by a touch of apricot. It is youthful, fresh and crisp.
Congratulations Old Westminster Winery and much success. We look forward to our continued partnership.