Published Articles May 4, 2016

Champagne – Symbol of Celebration

Champagne – Symbol of Celebration

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” ~ Dom Perignon at the moment he discovered champagne ~

I’ve rounded up Champagne, Cava and Proseccos too, Sweet to dry and rosy pink for you, Around the world from far and near, Bubbly celebrations, oh my, so dear……mlp

Champagne and other sparkling wines are ideal for celebrating anniversaries, falling in love, renewing our loves and toasting to the joy and happiness that the holiday seasons bring. Oh, there is nothing like that bubbly to add cachet and charm to parties and dinners, while providing plenty of flavor and the tickle of romantic effervescence that celebrations and celebrating deserves. “Ahh”, that wonder called Champagne comes in an array of styles from Demi-sec (sweet), Sec (semisweet), Extra dry (Semidry), to crisp non-vintage Brut (dry) to the complex and rich “Prestige” cuvee wines (most always dry).
Champagne is usually made as a cuvee (a blend) of three kinds of grapes (one white and two reds) — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The more white grapes in the blend, the lighter the Champagne, adding more red grapes give the champagne a fuller flavor and a darker color. How do you determine quality champagne? It’s in the bubbles. There are 49 million bubbles in the average champagne bottle. The smaller pinhead-sized bubbles indicate the finest Champagnes.
The term Blanc de Blancs signifies the Champagne is made entirely from white grapes, usually chardonnay, which produces a lighter, more elegant tasting wine, while Blanc de Noirs indicates Champagne made from red (black) grapes, usually Pinot Noir often blended with a lesser percentage
of Pinot Meunier, which produces a fuller bodied, richer and fruitier Champagne. It’s often pale gold in color with a hint of pink.
Rose Champagne is pink in color, and is produced by blending in a little red wine or leaving the dark skins of the Pinot Noir grape in the wine making process longer. Rose Champagne tends to be a little creamier and fuller bodied. This is my absolute favorite for celebrating, pop a bottle and you will be entranced.
The French term “Cre?mant” is used to refer to sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region. Good examples come from Alsace as Cre?mant d’Alsace and the Loire Valley as Cre?mant de Loire, and fine examples are produced in Limoux located in southern France near Carcassonne as Cre?mant de Limoux. Although these wines may be made in the similar Methode Champenoise as in Champagne, their production by law must be referred to as Methode Traditionelle. All of these appellations are abundant with white grapes appropriate for producing sparkling wines.
Germany is the largest per capita consumer of sparkling wine in the world. The premium wines use the Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris grapes, with most of it drunk locally rather than exported. If your lucky to spot a bottle of Sekt on your local wine merchants shelf, tuck it under your elbow and get it home fast to the frig. These Sparklers beam with acidity and structured fruit, elegant aroma of dried apricot with hints of peach, mango and maracuja create distinct complexity. Because of the extended time on the yeast, fine bubbles pearl in the glass and create a Sparkling wine with lots of power and structure. these wines make for great aperitif drinking matching well with Brie, Camembert, and Brillat Savarin and pairings with desserts quite wonderfully
Cava is the name of a type of Spanish white or pink sparkling wine, produced in different areas of Spain but mainly in the Penedes region in
Catalonia, Spain, 40 km to the south west of Barcelona. Its name is derived from the Catalan word for cellar. Spain also has a long and revered tradition of making top quality sparkling wines, but the modern era of the sparkling wines of cava was created in 1872 by Josep Ravento?s
using cuvee’s (blends) of Macebeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo, chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Subirat grapes. Gloria Ferrer, Cordiniu and Freixenet are very dependable “Houses” to look for.
‘I find the sparkling wines from Spain to be crisp elegant efforts offering notes of honeysuckle, dry and austere with excellent freshness as well as liveliness, they are for the most part superb values.’- Robert Parker Jr, Wine Advocate
Give Cava a try, you will find them irresistible and worthy of any and all your celebratory needs.
American sparkling wines
The history of producing quality sparkling wine in California can be traced to the Sonoma Valley where, in 1892, the Korbel Brothers who immigrated from Bohemia in 1852 started making the first American sparkling wines. With the success of the California wine industry, some of the most noted French and Spanish champagne houses have set up partnerships with many wineries in California. These include Moet et Chandon’s Domaine Chandon, Louis Roederer’s Roederer Estate, Taittinger’s Domain Carnerous. Gloria Ferrer, Cordiniu and Freixenet are several of the great houses from Spain to arrive. California Champagne makers have access to the gorgeously rich and luscious Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blancs from the famous Carnerous region of Sonoma County and provide fabulous wines that will thrill your palate throughout the holidays.
The straw-colored sparkling wine called Prosecco, with its overtones of citrus, melon, lemon, almonds, and honey, is a perfect holiday wine. It is crisp and clean with small bubbles and pairs nicely with seafood – especially calamari and crabmeat, salads, and even all but the heaviest pastas. It is Italy’s answer to refreshing, well-made sparkling wine. It is created predominately from the Prosecco grape a variety of white
grape grown in the northern Veneto region of Italy in the foothills of the Alps, The grape is grown in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene wine-growing regions north of Treviso, and is sometimes combined with a small amount of Pinot Blanc or Pinot Grigio grapes. Venetians consider
Prosecco an ideal apperitivo or ombrette (pick-me-up). Prosecco is also delicious when combined with fresh peach juice to make Venice’s most famous cocktail, the Bellini.
Australia has been proceeding full throttle with their champagne making and the results are fantastic. With the gorgeous fruit produced throughout its wine regions, how can they go wrong, and they don’t. If you’ve never tried a Sparkling Shiraz, well now’s the time to stop procrastinating. imagine tilting an empty glass and pouring … down the side runs a
liquid vivid in color with a violet and purple froth. Roaring out of the glass comes that smell of blackcurrants, blackberries, chocolate, cherries, strawberries and more. You finish pouring and slowly the froth settles into purple red wine with a steady mousse and fine lively bubbles. Another sniff now shows hints of oak, sweet fruit and firm acid. Try some, Wow …. powerful fruit, dry yet seemingly sweet, some acid and tannin on the finish as the flavors run over your tongue, berries, mushroom, spice, cherries and more. Makes me thirsty just writing about it! Sparkling Shiraz is just dazzling alongside Indian curries, Indonesian and Viet fare, and delicious when paired with Chinese delicacies spicy or not. Of note and not to be over looked also are the traditional champagnes using the Chardonnay and Pinot grapes, absolutely delicious and oh so easy to go along with a celebration.
I’ll leave you with Madame Lilly Bollinger’s thoughts when asked about Champagne. “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it-unless I’m thirsty”
Bon Boire (good drinking) Mark L Peterson

Mark encourages your inquiries and questions on the world of wines and spirits and can be contacted at

About the author

Mark Peterson: Mark resides in Taiwan with his wife Mary, and daughter Maya.