Dry, traditional, pink and all very Explosive!!!

While sitting for my WSET (London Wine and Spirit Education Trust) certification, I had two random essays to write. To my profound relief, one of the essays was on Champagne. I love Champagne! I am a self-professed Champagne geek!  I could happily focus on the process of making champagne, how it’s blended, fermented, dosaged, riddled, racked and disgorged. But it’s safe to assume you’re not as enamored as I. I could also focus on the sight, nose, taste and finish of champagne, but again – do you really care about the concentration of bubbles, the smell of yeast, caramel and green apples, its mousse, or the taste of… well the same. Do you really want to know whether its finish gives clues to its cuvee or vintage? I bet not! You might be interested, however, in a few cool facts for your upcoming love feast.

  • True Champagne must come from Champagne, France… all else is sparkling wine made in the “Methode Champenoise” style.
  • Dom Perignon is considered the father of Champagne, yet he never actually drank it.

  • Veuve (the widow) Clicquot figured out how to freeze the sediment in the neck (disgorgement) to create clear wine.

  • There are literally hundreds of miles of underground Champagne lime cellars in France, dating back to the Roman Empire.

  • Champagne is generally a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunior.

Once again, I digress… it’s Valentines weekend. What you probably care about is planning your love feast. Here’s where you can think outside the box. Traditionally, Champagne is the quintessential wine for love! Not only for Valentine’s day, but for weddings, births, promotions and christening of ships! I’m here to suggest that you have options: traditional, out of the ordinary, and down right breaking the rules.

The traditional pick is easy; pick a respected, quality Champagne or sparkling wine and plan to let it carry the mood from start to finish.

For the out of the ordinary, pick a sparkling wine that reflects who you are. Italian? Go with a Prosecco. Latin? Go with a Cava. German? Go with Sekt.

Finally, for you rule-breakers, if you love dessert as much as I (you know who you are—you willingly skip the main course for dessert), consider a fun sparkler for the dessert. There are some beautiful sparkling wine choices that pair perfectly with dessert. But (trust me on this) brut, extra sec and extra dry are not among them – in spite of the whole strawberries and Champagne myth. I must display my blatant preference here: follow the Italians. After all, they own the patent on passion and romance! Check out a Brachetto D’Acqui, It’s pink, sweet, and bursting with luscious fruit—perfect with the decadent chocolate dessert recipe I’m posting tomorrow. If you really want to throw a “LOVE FEAST”, do all three!

Whichever option you choose, make it special and memorable—something that fits who you are. Create the perfect memory for your special day, and by all means do it with passion!


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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


February 2010
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