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A season to sparkle

Published: Wed, December 4, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

If You Go...

What: Wine Academy: Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles!

Where: Avalon Golf and Country Club at Squaw Creek, 761 Youngstown-Kingsville Road, Vienna

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 12

How: For reservations Avalon members should call the club. Nonmembers can log on to myvalleyvino.com

If You Go

What: Wine Academy: Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles!

Where: Avalon Golf and Country Club at Squaw Creek, 761 Youngstown-Kingsville Road, Vienna.

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 12.

How: For reservations Avalon members should call the club. Nonmembers can log on to www.myvalleyvino.com.

Valley Vino

Brian Fry

The holiday season is upon us and many people are already preparing their Christmas and New Year’s parties. December is the month when sales of champagne and sparkling wine sales spike in our Valley and across the nation.

Making the right bubbly choice to suit your taste and the palates of those you are celebrating with can either dramatically enhance or drastically damage the overall party experience. Here’s a basic guide to help you find some good-quality choices that will make you look like an expert when it comes time to pop the corks.

What is the difference between champagne and sparkling wine?

Champagne is produced only in a very small region of France and is, generally speaking, the highest quality bubbly available on store shelves. An international trade agreement states that only sparkling wines from this small region can legally be called champagne. Everything else, including domestic bubbly, is generally called sparkling wine.

How do I know if it’s dry or sweet?

The most commonly bottled version of the bubbly is brut. Brut is a blend of primarily chardonnay and pinot noir and is almost always dry.

Ros is brut’s pink cousin. It’s usually also a chardonnay-pinot noir blend, but it can sometimes be 100 percent pinot noir and is almost always dry.

Finding the sweet bubbly can be a little challenging because of some semantic challenges. Bubbly labeled “extra dry” is actually moderately sweet.

Other popular versions of sweet bubbly include: asti spumante, demi-sec and moscato.

What is the best strategy for buying bubbly for my party?

I believe that diversity is the key when choosing the bubbles for larger parties, especially for that all important New Year’s Eve toast. Having some authentic French Champagne on hand to please the real wine lovers among your friends is a good idea. A lot of your guests will likely want something sweet, so a few different bottles for those folks is a key to success, and having something pink on hand is sure to please some friends.

Here’s a look at six great bottles of bubbly that I highly recommend:


G.H. Mumm cordon rouge: slightly pink and incredibly delicious with bright berry flavors and fresh creaminess.

Perrier Jouet Grand Brut: Delicate and beautiful with orchard fruit flavors and enticing citrus nuances.

2004 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque: Quite simply, my favorite bubbly of the year. Comes in a beautiful gist both with two hand-painted champagne flutes.


Mumm Napa Cuvee M: Moderately sweet with a flavor profile similar to angel food cake. Yummy!

Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blanc: 100 percent California chardonnay grapes make this incredibly rich and creamy.

Mumm Napa Brut Rose: Beautifully pink in the glass with flavors of fresh raspberries and strawberries.


Contact Brian at brian.fry@myvalleyvino.com or by visiting www.myvalleyvino.com.

On vindy.com: stay up to date with Brian’s tastes and travels 24/7.

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