Wade Cothran |
Summer Sparkling Wines: The Five Bottles to Try This Year
After a long and arduous winter, summer has finally arrived. The mercury in our thermometers is rising, and the sun has brought people everywhere out of the house and into the warm and sunny weather. What could be a better way to celebrate than with a chilled bottle of sparkling wine?
For us, summertime really is the perfect time to start experimenting with different bottles of bubbly. After all, throughout the colder seasons, we only ever seem to crack open the Champagne - or its other cousins of the fizzy wine world - when it’s time for a special occasion, be that Christmas, a birthday, or an anniversary dinner. However, as soon as it’s warm enough to start sitting outside with friends, it’s a whole different ball game: sparkling wine becomes the perfect cooling, enjoyable, and food-friendly drink that’s ideal for warm days and long, balmy evenings.
But which to choose? As with all wine styles, there’s plenty to pick from when it comes to sparklers. What’s more, as any dedicated wine fan will tell you, there’s a world of options out there beyond your standard NV Champagne - and even though this French classic hogs the limelight of the sparkling wine world, it would be a crying shame to fail to look beyond this one particular style. The fact of the matter is, almost every single white wine-producing region in the world has a history of sparkling wine and something interesting to offer fans of this particular style. Elegant and dry, sweet and luxurious, complex or easy-drinking… The varieties out there are surprisingly broad, and as we always say, variety really is the spice of life.
As such, in this week’s article, we’ve decided to pick out the five sparkling wine styles that we think are absolutely perfect for summer drinking, and which no picnic, garden party, or al fresco dining experience should be without. Cheers!
The Comeback Star: Lambrusco
As we all know, trends in the world of wine come and go with astonishing rapidity, and tend to operate in a cycle of fashions which rise and fall decade on decade. The last couple of years have seen a massive boost in the sparkling red wine industry, which has been refreshing, considering that most of us immediately think of white and rose wines as the most obvious and accessible bottles when it comes to a bit of fizz.
Hip and trendy bars from Sydney to Berlin and from Brooklyn to London have been championing Lambrusco for some time now, and the rest of the wine world is finally waking up to the new and improved, 21st century-style Lambrusco that really does live up to the hype. This deeply colored and deliciously flavourful sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna in Italy has shed its less-than-ideal reputation from yesteryear and has revamped itself as a strikingly contemporary and highly refreshing summertime drink, and one which bursts with a delicious fruitiness and dryness that’s hard to beat when the sun is shining. Perfect with charcuterie and cheese boards, Lambrusco might just become the brand new favorite you’ve been searching for.
The Green Genius: Vinho Verde
When it comes to summery wines that really hit the high notes on a hot day, you’ll often find us waxing lyrical about Spain’s Albarino varietal. This grape is also the star of neighboring Portugal’s white wine scene (where it’s known as Alvarinho), but on the sun-soaked Atlantic coastal cities of Porto and Lisbon, they treat it a little differently. If you haven’t already fallen in love with Portuguese wines, well, you’re in for a treat.
Vinho Verde (literally ‘green wine’ as a result of the Alvarinho’s greenish tinge) is a gently sparkling white wine that is ubiquitous in Lisbon’s stylish tavernas and bodegas, and it’s starting to make major waves elsewhere around the world, too. It’s vibrant, zesty, and incredibly refreshing, with the slight touch of fizz to provide the ultimate cooling experience. Approachable, informal, and incredibly drinkable, Vinho Verde might just be the ultimate lazy summer afternoon wine. Give it a try!
The Best Value: Crémant d’Alsace
Everyone knows that Champagne is the big hitter of the wine world. Everybody also knows that it’s one of the most expensive wines there is, and it isn’t uncommon for even mid-range bottles to hit three figures or more on the shelf. What if we told you, however, that there are plenty of excellent French sparkling wines out there which are as good as, if not better, than traditional Champagne, and which are made with the same method, and even occasionally the same grapes?
Crémant d’Alsace is a beautifully dry and crisp sparkling wine from France’s Alsace region, which is home to some of the greatest Pinot Gris and Riesling wines in the world. The fizzy wines from this part of the country are made using the methode champenoise, and feature beautifully ripened grapes and flawless attention to detail. Best of all, you can pick up a top-quality Crémant d'Alsace for a fraction of the price of half-decent Champagne. We’re pretty confident you’ll agree that, on sunny days, Crémant de Alsace does the job even better than its more famous neighbor.
The Sweet One: Moscato
Summertime drinking works best when it revolves around light, fun, and fruity flavors - you can save the complex and confusing, heavy reds for when winter rolls around. In this sense, the modern-style Moscato wines coming out of Australian regions such as Yarra Valley really hit the spot like no other, and provide the perfect flavor and body for picnic drinking and al-fresco sessions with your friends.
Moscato is, as we all know, a time-honored Italian sparkling wine style that makes fine use of the historic Muscadet grape. However, the Aussies are known for a much more laid-back and experimental approach than the Italians, and Australian Moscato tends to be considerably more relaxed and unpretentious. Expect sweet and sugary berry flavors and a light-hearted, easy-drinking body, that’s just ideal for lying around in the sunshine.
Flash Your Cash: Blanc des Noirs Champagne
OK - sometimes you don’t want a sparkling wine for sipping in the garden with your friends, no matter how brightly the sun is shining. Sometimes, sparkling wine should be about marking an occasion, showing off your impeccable sense of taste, and yes, splashing your cash a little. In this sense, there isn’t really much replacement for a classic French Champagne. However, not all Champagnes are made equal, or even made in the same way.
We’ve long been fans of Blanc des Noirs Champagne as a delicious alternative to the original. While traditional Champagne is made from a carefully balanced blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Petit Meunier, Blanc des Noirs skips the Chardo and sticks with just the black grapes in the blend. The result is a fruitier and more seductive sparkling wine that’s just perfect for warm summer evenings romancing and drinking in style. Give it a try - you won’t regret it!There you have it - five sparkling wine styles that are just perfect for summertime drinking! The only thing that could make them better is a BruMate insulated wine tumbler - a beautiful accessory that not only looks stylish but also keeps your vino at the perfect temperature. What more could you possibly ask for?