Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Selecting the Bubbly

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Selecting the Bubbly

Article excerpt

THE SOUND OF A cork popping out of a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine signifies a celebration. Choosing that bottle, however, can be difficult.

In most wine shops you'll find a staggering selection. Learning just a little about sparkling wine makes it easier to choose a good bottle. Here are some guidelines.

Whenever possible, go to a good wine shop, one with knowledgeable salespeople. Don't hesitate to ask their advice - most likely, they will be able to guide you to some wonderful bottles, whatever your price range. These wines don't have to be reserved for a special occasion. They are a perfect match for many meals - the bubbles make sparkling wine an excellent palate cleanser. Champagne and Sparkling Wine True Champagne is made only in France's Champagne region. Anything else is usually called sparkling wine, and fine examples are made in other regions of France, as well as in the United States, Italy and Spain. Like true Champagne, the best sparkling wines are made by the "methode champenoise," the technique invented and still used by the French. It involves adding a small amount of a wine-and-sugar mixture (called the dosage) and yeast to a bottle of still wine. The bottle is sealed, and the wine is allowed to ferment a second time. During this process, carbon dioxide is produced and trapped inside the bottle; this is what makes the wine sparkle when the bottle is opened. Sparkling wines made by methode champenoise are usually labeled as such on the bottle. Mass-produced sparkling wines are often made by the Charmat, or bulk, method, in which the wine is fermented in large tanks and then bottled. A champagne house generally produces several different styles. The vintage cuvee is a luxury champagne made from a blend of grapes; in good years, a less expensive vintage champagne may also be produced. A Blanc de Blanc is made from Chardonnay grapes and a rose is made from mostly Pinot Noir grapes. The brut (dry) nonvintage champagne is usually the best seller and reflects the house style. …

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