Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bubbly Report 2011

Can you believe it; the Holiday Season is coming to a close. It seems like we spend so much time working up to those festive nights, only to have them fly by at the blink of an eye. While I advocate picking up a bottle of bubbly any time of year, there are many people who only bring it out for special occasions, New Year’s Eve being one of them. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find a good bottle of bubbly and this time of year, many retailers have specials on sparkling wines, so it’s the perfect time to stock up.

Sparkling Wine info:
Classification: Extra Brut (extra dry), Brut (very dry), Extra Dry/Extra Sec (dry), Sec(semi-sweet), Demi Sec (sweet), Doux (very sweet)
Suggested Serving Temperature: 40-45ºF (to achieve this temperature, remove from fridge 30 minutes prior to serving. Or, if chilling from room temperature, place in ice bucket for about 30 minutes)
Wine Glass: The flute — the narrower the opening at the mouth, the longer the bubbles will last.

Produced in the Veneto region of Italy, I think this was one of my favorite samples this season. Delicate floral aromas combine with crisp and clean fruit, honey and floral flavors. Deliciously dry, the wine is made to drink young which means as soon as it hits the shelves, you can begin enjoying. Per the website, the name Avissi comes from the delightful fizzy sound the bubbles make as they happily rise in the glass. That description alone makes me want to seek out another bottle. SRP - $18.99

100% Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley, the grapes are harvested at a high acidity and fermented at low temps. Aromas of honey and lime while flavors are full of floral, apricot and a hint of yeast. Nice acidity and well balanced. Who can resist the romance and opulence the Biltmore Estate represents. While I may never live like a Vanderbilt, I can enjoy the wonderful wines the estate produces. SRP - $24.99

Touted as the go-to Sparkling white, as annoying as I find those new “go-to” commercials, I must admit, for the money, yellow tail Bubbles is a good option for a go-to sparkler. Abundance of fine bubbles and hint of floral in the aroma with crisp, tropical semi-sweet flavors make this a good option for NYE celebrating. The makers of Yellow Tail realize, sometimes you have to end the party a little early or maybe you’ve partied a little to hard and it’s time to hang up your glass. If you find yourself unable to finish a bottle of Yellow Tail Bubbles, never fear! The “cork”, called a Zork, is a re-sealable enclosure that allows the wonderful sound of the popping cork, yet allows you to seal and maintain gas pressure so you don’t lose any of those wonderful bubbles. I’ve used the Zork and stored sparkling wine for up to two days in my fridge and had ample bubbles.  SRP - $8-$12

Looking to mix up your sparkler, how about a “champagne” cocktail. Below are a few recipes sent to me using yellow tail but you could substitute your favorite sparkling wine.

Blackberry Fizz (served at Madison & Vine, NYC)
2 large fresh blackberries (or 1 oz. blackberry puree)
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
2 oz.  Yellow Tail sparkling wine
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
1 oz. Gin
Directions: In a mixing glass muddle the blackberries (or add the puree), along with the lemon, simple, Lillet, and Gin. Then add ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled champagne flute and top off with the sparkling wine.
Garnish: blackberry on rim of glass

Ginger-Passion Sparkler (served at Bookmarks Lounge, NYC)
1/2 oz. ginger liqueur
1 oz. passionfruit juice
4 oz. Yellow Tail Sparkling Wine
Directions: Add ingredients directly to champagne flute.
Garnish: candied ginger on rim of glass

Food Pairings:
Hard cheese, both strong and mild make a beautiful pairing. My favorites are cave aged gruyere and clothbound cheddar. Both can be found at specialty cheese shops and Whole Foods.
Pair with Brix Chocolate for Wine for a special treat. Pair with the Smooth Dark Chocolate, which is best suited for sparkling wines.

So another year comes and goes. For a change, I look forward to what the new year will bring. For me it will be continued improvements to our new home, a wine room in what is now a plain and dull partial basement, Americana chickens and their colorful eggs and the hope of meeting new people who may become lifelong friends. One change I do not look forward to is the inevitable passing of my 19 year old cat, Katundra. The time is near, I know but in the meantime, we keep her warm, comfortable, well fed and very loved.

This New Year’s raise a glass to both old friends and new friends who we may meet in the New Year and to the memories of friends and family we may have lost this year.


If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.
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