It’s easy to forget when you stare at the shelf of expensive branded bottles at the liquor store, but sparkling wine should be fun. And if you ask Remember Sussman, The author of Sparkling wine for modern times, It he Fun, once you put aside some of the myths and rules of the old school (definitely not flute required; 30 minutes in the fridge is all the creepy time you need).
The illustrative book proves that the world of sparkling wine is much larger than more well-known French champagne, and there is Plenty of brave and personality-laden bottles Out there that cost much less than a bottle of Veuve Clicquot or Dom Pérignon. To Sussman, who wrote Lots on the topic for PUNCH And is also the author of The Essential Wine Book, This bubbling world is just as big and diverse as Any other style of wineof. I asked him for some advice on shopping and drinking sparkling wine this winter – and well beyond New Year’s Eve.
What are the biggest changes that have happened to sparkling wine in the last quarter of a century?
For longer than anyone remembers, French champagne was synonymous with all the bubbling things. If you walked into a wine store 20 years ago and wandered around the sparkling wine section, the selection available to you would reflect this fact: you would find the usual big champagne brands, along with a few of the cheap prosco cubs that played the role of “champagne alternatives.”
However, over the last 10 to 15 years, this old paradigm has been widely breached. Thanks to an increasingly curious generation of drinkers, there is now a market for sparkling wines from all over the globe made according to a wealth of styles, colors and techniques, from California Pet-Net to bottle-fermented Lambrusco to Hungarian Pizgo. We’ve never had such an abundance of options – and it’s both amazing and, frankly, more than a little confusing. This is the main reason I wanted to write this book.
You get into some glassware in the book, and you make the case that flutes are not really necessary. How about a cash register?
For the record’s, I’m not a stem vessel snob, and I’m known to drink champagne from a plastic solo glass if the situation requires it. For the most part, any glassware you have on hand will work great. However, if it has become popular among “wine people” to abandon the traditional champagne flute (there are those who find that the narrow opening makes it difficult to absorb the basic smells of what is in the glass), then the box office risks over-repairing in the opposite too diffuse direction. In my experience, it also does no favors with the gases of the wine, but I do appreciate the Gatsby-like glow aura.
When people think of sparkling wine, their thoughts usually migrate, geographically, to the Champagne region of France. What do you think is the region, or country, most valued in terms of the sparkling wine it produces?
There are far too many to choose just one, but the first place that comes to mind is Catalonia – specifically, Pandas, the traditional home of cava. Cheap supermarket stereotypes still surround the category, but the region’s proximity to Barcelona’s natural wine scene has made Cava State a laboratory for some of the thought-provoking and experimental sparkling wines that exist today. You have all this new generation of winemakers rejecting the voluminous model and mass market that has always defined the region’s production. Together, they shed light on their unique bag of local grapes through a prism of styles that offer a much more nuanced understanding of the region. The book contains plenty of names to look for for anyone interested in diving deep.
“For the record’s, I’m not a stem vessel snob, and I’m known to drink champagne from a plastic solo glass if the situation requires it.”
There are, of course, some champagne brands you can buy in almost any city or town in America (the Veuve Clicquots and Dom Pérignons of the world), but if you wanted to bring someone a really “fancy” festive gift, which bottle would you choose that is a little off the beaten path?
At the risk of contradicting what I just said about champagne no longer being the only bubbling measure, I still think nothing says “fancy” or “festive” like a great bottle of champagne. But instead of the Veuve Clicquots and Dom Pérignons you mentioned, I would choose one of the many small-scale, independent and family-scale areas that fuel the “towers” revolution that has fueled the region’s traditional balance of power. Instead of selling their grapes to the big champagne houses, these independent growers-producers put out tiny quantities of champagne grown and bottled in their mansion. For the money, you will get something much more unique and unique.
For people looking for the right bottle to bring to a friend’s holiday party or New Year’s reunion, is there a bottle that delights the audience under the $ 25 you really like lately?
When my wife and I visited her family in Switzerland last August, we all went on a day trip across the French border to spend a day in the small village of Seychelles in Savoy. Apparently the area was once famous for its glittering “Moss Sisal”, a favorite of Queen Victoria, who apparently enjoyed it during her visits to the local spa. After lunch at a small hotel overlooking the Rhone River, we visited Gerard Lambert, the owner of the Lambert de Seisel winery, who revived the historic sparkling wine label Royal Seisel (originally launched in 1901).
Luckily, his wines are imported to the United States, and my wife and I have probably consumed at least one pack since we got home. Made in the same method as champagne from Savoy’s native molten and altes grapes, Lambert’s entry level Petit Royal Bottling is the perfect sparkler for any purpose. It is foamy and light, with ripe quince-like fruit and the quality of this alpine meadow (imagine wildflowers and fresh mountain air) that takes me straight back to the French countryside. Total theft for $ 25.