There’s always a mad dash for that perfect something, hopefully, on Valentine’s Day. A gift that says, I’m thinking about you doesn’t need to break the bank. Flowers are fine, but they aren’t sparkling wine.
Bubbles tend to mean celebration and so the perfect way to celebration a loved one, or a really liked one, is a bottle of sparkling wine, from just about anywhere in the world.
Sparkling wine sparkles because of carbon dioxide. That carbon dioxide in almost every case, comes naturally from the fermentation process. The first fermentation in wine is what turns wine from grape juice, to… well, wine. In sparkling wines, a second fermentation happens to produce the sparkle. Depending upon the method used, either the method Champenoise (as in Champagne), otherwise known as the traditional method or the Charmat method, that fermentation happens in the bottle, or a larger tank.
This discovery, long credited to Dom Perignon in Champagne may even date further back to what is known as the méthode ancestral, or the ancestral method, developed in Limoux in the 15oos. The ancestral method differs in that the first fermentation is not complete when the wine is bottled and there is no disgorgement, (or removal of the spent yeast cells) and the wines are often very funky. This style is experiencing a renaissance in the natural wine movement, particularly the pétillant-naturel, popularly pét-nat.
How ever that sparkle is added, we all love sparkling wine, and so I offer you a variety of options, at a variety of price points for every day, or to celebrate that special someone on Valentine’s Day.
You don’t often think of the Southern Hemisphere for sparkling wines, but this is a flavor packed bottle with rich aromas of honey and bread, a pearly effervescence and a rich flavor profile loaded with ripe stone fruit, honey and chamomile. The chardonnay comes from a couple different vineyard sites and it’s all organic. The production method, Charmat or fermentation in steel tanks, is the exact same as is used in the production of Prosecco but this bottling comes with some great honey and yeasty complexity almost as one would expect in a traditional bottle fermentation process, as is used in Champagne. Credit the ample time the wine was given to contact the lees, or spent yeast cells.
Fitz Ritter Riesling Sekt, Extra Trocken, Pfalz, Germany $20
Not all Valentine’s Day gives are going to lead to Sekt. Ha! But maybe they should? If you’ve never had sparkling Riesling, it will be a real head turner for the uninitiated. This wine is done in the traditional method, so some of the bready, yeastiness comes through in aromas of almond and hazelnut, but then Riesling kicks in and you get lots of that fleshy, bright fruit. Trocken means dry and this wine has extra trocken, but you definitely get some of that sweet fruit you associate with Riesling through this wine both in aromas and flavors. Aromas are enthusiastic; key lime, sweet nectarine and and wet stone. There’s a zippy acidity to this Riesling along with flavors of fleshy peach, pear and an almost lemon creme finish with lots of acidity to lift.
Pretty in Pink: Pink bubbles are always fun, but seem to be more appropriate as a Valentine’s Day treat.
Martini & Rossi Sparkling Rosé, Italy $12
While Martini and Rossi are known from everything from vermouth to race cars, this Northern Italian pink sparkler delivers a lot of flavor and zip for a humble price. A perfect before meal drink or pair it with a shrimp appetizer and you’re on your way. Not overly serious this wine is a reliable bottle of rhubarb and strawberry aromatics and a flavor profile of red currants, cranberry and cut strawberries.
Domaine Bousquet Brut Rosé, Mendoza, Argentina $12
Another budget friendly bottle of pretty pink hued wine. This organic bottling from Domaine Bousquet in the Southern Hemisphere shows you the kind of wine that is coming out of Argentina right now, well made, and incredibly well priced. A pale pink, bordering on outrageously orange hued wine is a combination of the classical, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wine is aromatically as delicate and pretty as the color. Aromas of raspberry, watermelon and a hint of yeastiness introduce a palate with fresh, fine bubbles. Flavors of cut strawberries, grapefruit and early season cherries finish the wine off.
MOËT ROSÉ IMPÉRIAL, Champagne, France $58
It’s Champagne for a reason folks. If Valentine’s is the motivation you need to blow the budget wide open, there are few wine regions worth the splurge the way Champagne is. The folks at Moet have been doing this for a long time, and so perhaps it’s only fitting that your special someone should drink the same pink bubbles that inspired Napoleon and the mistress of King Louis XV. The Moet line is classical, and will make the case that you and that special someone should be splurging for Champagne more often. A pretty pink hued wine, that hints at elegance almost immediately with aromatics of peach, toasted bread, and perhaps just a not of candied orange. The palate is mouth-filling, with strawberries and creme, brioche, and a nice zesty finish led by acidity.
It was Moet after all that originated the christening of sailing ship with a bottle of Champagne sacrificed against its bow. So perhaps this bottle is worth the relatively small sacrifice to your wallet, to show you really care, or who knows, christen your exit out of the dog house for whatever it is you did… this time.