Tuesday, August 5, 2008

WINE WITH DINNER – Sparkling Wines and Summer Meals

Most people prefer white wines with their meals during the hot summer months, or an occasional rosé - rather than a heavy red wine. That makes a lot of sense to me. But, I find it interesting that many relatively knowledgeable wine consumers still consider sparkling wine as something to enjoy only on “special occasions” when a formal toast is in order. That’s too bad, because brut (i.e., “dry”) sparkling wine is probably the most universal food wine you will ever find!

But, you say, Brut Champagne is so expensive! Yes, dry sparkling wines from the Champagne district of France are expensive – and, by the way, they are not just for toasting, but are and always will be a terrific dinner beverage! But the important point here is that there are a lot of less expensive sparkling alternatives out there to go with your summer meals. French Champagne is not the only game in town.

For example, as I’ve said before, I am partial to serving Prosecco (a light, Italian, low-alcohol sparkling wine) before dinner and as a luncheon wine, because it is so inexpensive and goes so well with light foods and appetizers. There are many to choose from in the $9 to $15 range. With dinner, there are a whole host of similarly low-priced sparkling wines from which to choose, such as Spanish Cava and bargain-priced California sparkling wines.

Of course, in the $15 to $25 range, the number of brut sparkling wines available really becomes impressive. However, as wide as the assortment becomes, it will, unfortunately, not yet include any examples of good quality French Champagne, which now costs over $30 a bottle and, hence, is out the everyday meal category altogether.

So what? From just this short introduction, you probably have already stopped thinking of sparkling wine solely as expensive “Champagne” to be used only for special occasions and, instead, are ready to consider it as an affordable, refreshing summer dinner beverage. If you have, I guarantee that you will be pleased to discover how many affordable sparkling wines there are out there to enhance your meals …. and you will be doubly pleased to see how they will turn those meals into special occasions! - Jay Roelof –

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