With the holiday season coming up, it is impossible to stop talking about sparkling wines, after all, in terms of wines, they are the trademark of the celebrations! I promise to try to contain myself in the information, but I’m warning you that this is an almost impossible mission. This, because in the first place, it is in my nature to talk a lot, and secondly because this is such an extensive subject, that I could write a book only about sparkling wines. So, I decided to talk in this first article about three fundamental points: a brief explanation about sparkling wines, how to open and serve them correctly, and their possible harmonizations. To finish, I will list the best national sparkling wines chosen in a blind tasting by Menu magazine in November 2013.
In general, sparkling wine is any wine that undergoes two natural fermentations. The first is alcoholic fermentation, responsible for the transformation of fruit sugar into alcohol, which can occur in oak barrels, and is the fermentation common to all wines. The second, specific to sparkling wines, is responsible for increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the drink, making it effervescent. This second fermentation can take place in two ways: champenoise, also called traditional or classic, which occurs inside the bottle itself, or by the method charmat, carried out in pressurized stainless steel tanks.
The increase in the gas concentration causes the pressure inside the bottle to reach up to 6 atmospheres, that is, the internal pressure can be up to 6 times higher than the pressure here outside! And that is why the cork pops when we open it. And to prevent the beauty of the cork from flying towards the forehead of a guest, the best thing to do is, after removing the seal, cover the cork with a cloth napkin and carefully remove it. Not to miss the perlage (the bubbles that go up in the bowl), serve a small amount with the bowl tilted, rotate the sparkling wine in the bowl to cool it, and then yes, serve the rest delicately, without letting that pile of foam form. An ideal perlage is one whose bubbles are abundant and small.
OK! Now that you know how to open and serve your sparkling wine, let’s discuss a little about the harmonization of these. My first tip is that if you are going to serve a very heterogeneous group of guests, give preference to demi-sec or brut, not to extremes: candy and nature. The candy can upset some of your guests, and it is a little more difficult to harmonize. Nature, on the other hand, is the opposite, it doesn’t have a bit of sugar, and it doesn’t please everyone either, especially those who don’t have the habit of tasting them.
In general, sparkling wines harmonize very well with seafood, especially oysters and seafood. They are also very good with savory and spicy appetizers, such as canapés made from toast seasoned with black pepper and parmesan. Cured and salted cheeses also go very well with them. If it is to accompany a main dish, more fatty white sauces, fried foods, ham and turkey, are quite balanced when served with brut sparkling wines. To harmonize with desserts, I suggest the muscat grape sparkling wines, which are sweeter and more aromatic, and go well with citrus pies and jams, strawberries, passion fruit, peaches, apricots and recipes that take some type of oilseed (chestnuts, walnuts , almonds). And of course: with a delicious french toast it is a temptation !!!! Now if I’m going to serve a cheesecake with red fruits, I suggest a demi-sec or a Prosecco (the latter is made with a grape variety of the same name, characteristic of the Veneto region in Italy, and also harmonizes a lot with oilseeds).
And finally, as I mentioned earlier, the magazine Menu held a blind tasting, so that the experts chose the best national sparkling wines. In the report, it is clear the pleasant surprise that experts had when tasting some labels! Thus, I have listed here 8 of the wines that were evaluated, however, the report still includes other labels that also received great marks.
- Maximo Boschi Tradizionale 2009 (Vale dos Vinhedos), traditional method. Fruity and sweet notes, with floral notes (it was the least praised of the tasting). Average price: R $ 37.00.
- Almaúnica Nature Reserve (Vale dos Vinhedos), traditional method. Aromas with notes of spices. Average price: R $ 48.00.
- Brut lyric (Pinto Bandeira). Made in Cave Geisse, traditional method. Citrus aromas, fresh tropical fruits and some floral note. (He received the highest score in the tasting). Average price: R $ 65.00.
- LH Zanini Extra Brut 2008 (Vale dos Vinhedos), traditional method. Aromas with notes of hazelnut and dried fruit. Average price: R $ 77.00.
- Valmarino & Churchill Brut Nature (Pinto Bandeira), traditional method. Striking note of wood, yeast and a little citrus. Average price: R61.00.
- Cave Geisse Nature Terroir 2009 (Pinto Bandeira), traditional method. Notes of green apple, citrus and floral. Average price R $ 120.00.
- Orus Pas Dosé (Garibaldi). Rosè elaborated by Adolfo Lona, traditional method. Notes of fresh red fruits and spices. Average price R $ 130.00.
- Maria Valduga Brut 2008 (Vale dos Vinhedos), traditional method. Baking notes, ripe pineapple and light floral. Average price: R $ 144.00.
I wish you all great holidays and a happy new year!