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February 2010


WINE & SPIRITS

Let the Sparklers Fly!
By Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave

KEEP ROMANCE ALIVE WITH FRESH, BRIGHT BUBBLIES FROM AROUND THE GLOBE

A ny Cupid knows that Valentine's Day calls for bubbly. And in my house, almost any day calls for bubbly—not only Champagne, but all stripes of sparklers. While Champagne is slated for sophisticated and celebratory sipping, other sparkling wines can be popped open playfully for any occasion. And being less costly, they're perfect for flirtatious evenings.

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Sparkling wines hail from all over the world and come from different grape varieties. Their production often differs from methode Champenoise (which involves a second fermentation in the bottle and a longer period of bottle aging), though many are actually elaborated versions of this. The charmat style, in contrast, involves a secondary fermentation in tanks and no bottle aging—a cheaper process. The results are often a young, fresh, fruity profile that set these bottles apart.

EVER SINCE THE FAME OF THE BELLINI at Harry's Bar in Venice, Prosecco, the DOC sparkling wine of Italy, has entered the American lexicon. Mionetto Prosecco leads the U.S. market with two distinct styles: Frizzante ($10; all figures suggested retail prices) with gentle bubbles and Spumante Brut ($13) with more active fizz. The Brut has a nice balance of fruitness and acidity and subtle flavors of apple. With a slightly sweeter taste, the Frizzante displays delicate peach and lychee notes. Unlike some bottles of Prosecco, which can often have a bitter finish, Mionetto wines are celebrated for their pleasant aftertaste.

Another delightful Prosecco, Zonin, is vying to burst Mionetto's big bubble. The Zonin family has 225 acres dedicated to Prosecco vines in Friuli, making them the largest single owner in Italy. Zonin Prosecco ($15) has a delicate bubble. It's aromatic with floral, apple and almond notes. Zonin has a secret weapon in Francesco Zonin, the heartthrob son, who's the poster boy for the brand—"I'll drink what he's having."

Italy has many sparkling wines that are not under the Prosecco DOC. Voga Italia Sparkling Pinot Grigio ($16) has a tubular bottle with a re-sealable cap, floral aromas and citrus flavors. Baccorosa ($15), a sweet vino spumante, also from Zonin, has a fruity taste—mildly sweet—and with only 7 percent alcohol, it is an ideal after-dinner sipper, a light complement to cookies and other small bites.

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