Magazine article Sunset

Global Sparklers

Magazine article Sunset

Global Sparklers

Article excerpt

THE WINE GUIDE

It's happened twice this year: I've been sitting in a restaurant in a foreign country, and all around me the discreet hiss and pop of Champagne corks punctuated the clamor of conversation. But it wasn't Champagne-sparkling wine from that eponymous region in France-- people were drinking. The first time, it was New Zealand sparklers, sipped with abandon during Sunday brunch. The second time, at 11 P.M. in a seafood restaurant in Barcelona, Spain, the waiters didn't even ask if anyone wanted sparkling wine; they just brought bottle after bottle to every table.

You see, something has changed in much of the world. People are no longer under the impression that Champagne is the only sparkling wine worth drinking, or that bubbles are only for celebrations. From the trattorias of Italy to the cafes of Argentina, people are drinking sparklers because bubbles are refreshing, and the wines are extraordinary matches for a wide range of foods.

In my favorite wine shop recently, I found sparklers from Spain, Germany, Italy, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia as well as Champagne; and from closer to home, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington as well as California. Most were made by the painstaking, labor-intensive traditional method (methode champenoise), meaning that the bubbles formed naturally inside each bottle. And in almost every case the wines were a deal, if not an outright steal. So this month, think globally-and beyond New Year's Eve. In addition to Champagne and California sparkling wine, try these. …

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