Itâ€™s that time of year again â€“ time for bubbly! At least, thatâ€™s how most people see it; more sparkling wine sells in the United States in the month of December than almost all of the other months of the year combined. To that effect, we here at The Vines have recently offered a New Years special on our house sparkler, Gimenez Riili Perpetuum Espumante. A half-priced 6 pack for $59, just in time for New Years.
Despite the annual spike in sparkling wine sales, however, what I'd like to talk about here is how bubbly can be enjoyed the rest of the year. Thereâ€™s an interesting phenomenon in the US where one cannot order sparkling wine without being asked what the celebration is for. Canâ€™t one just celebrate a love for bubbly, is that not enough? Or... the fact that it's Thursday? Furthermore, there seems to be the idea floating around that thereâ€™s no place for sparklers with a meal, which is another misconception I'd like to address. Have you ever tried a dry sparkling wine with spicy Thai food, for example? No better way to cleanse the palate. Bubbly with pizza? Beer is good, but try that one! Then of course thereâ€™s seafoodâ€¦ almost nothing is better than a bone-dry sparkler with shellfish. Not that Mendoza is known for its seafood, but hey, try the vino!
Now, let me be clear: there is certainly a place in every party for a bottle of bubbly (or a case...). Who doesnâ€™t like to celebrate to the sound of corks flying through the air? One of the greatest challenges for most sommeliers in training (at least those who like to drink as well as serve) is remembering that in formal wine service, you're supposed to open the bottle silently. Now, where's the fun in that?
The point here certainly isn't to encourage anybody to take the bubbly out of the party, but rather to bring it elsewhere as well. Sparkling wine is festive, but it's also wine - there's a great deal of variety at every level of the category, and it has a place at many tables. One can even learn from tasting it after the bubbles have gone: the good stuff is still good, and that which is not, well you can actually identify the flaws. It's always fascinating to taste the same blend produced as a still wine and a sparkler side by side, although not many producers offer that.
So - go ahead and buy your bubbly for New Years - (and please, buy some of it from us!) But don't hesitate to open it before midnight, and to keep drinking it once the holiday has passed.
Cheers, and happy holidays!
(A note on the author: Aaron is the new Manager of Direct Sales for The Vines of Mendoza, handling the Acequia Wine Club and The Vines' online wineshop. He also writes his own wineblog)