By Lindy Brown
“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.” — Mme. Lily Bollinger, Champagne icon and head of the Bollinger House, Oct. 17, 1961.
As Ms. Bollinger so eloquently points out, there is no definitive time to drink Champagne (or sparkling wine in general, for that matter). However, if you are one who loves to have a great excuse for bubbles, look no further than Valentine’s Day, no matter your dinner plans. Sparkling wine pairs perfectly with everything from oysters to fried chicken. So forget the candy hearts this year and try one of my favorite selections. (You’ll find most of these on the menu at Pizzology or The Libertine Liquor Bar, as well as at Vine & Table and Goose the Market.)
Naverán Brut Vintage Cava, Penedes, Spain 2010…with expressive honeysuckle, green apple and white peach notes, this Cava is well priced and the perfect way to start your evening. Most Cavas get a bad rap, and some deservedly so, but this well-made wine will change your mind!
Camille Braun Cremant Rosé Pinot Noir, Alsace, France NV…made from 100 percent Pinot Noir, this sparkling wine from Alsace could easily pass for Champagne. It has notes of dried cherry and wild strawberry, yet it’s dry and well balanced, making this wine an excellent choice, particularly for those for typically prefer red wines or darker beers.
Ca del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige Brut, Lombardy NV…Franciacorta is a lesser-known sparkling wine, but only because there are so few in the market. Beautiful in color, with yellow plum, citrus and honey flavors accented by a toasted bread finish,; you’d be remiss not to order this wine should you find it!
Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale, Champagne, France NV…this is my favorite non-vintage Champagne by far. The winemakers chose a 35 percent Chardonnay, 35 percent Pinot Noir, and 30 percent Pinot Meunier blend that is aged for a minimum of three years. Notes of lemon, peach and vanilla lead to a full-bodied, yet refreshing finish.
A French 75…for those of you who like a bit of booze with your bubbles. When properly made, this is my favorite classic cocktail. Created by Harry MacElhone in 1915, the combination of gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun.
Certified sommelier Lindy Brown lives in Indianapolis and loves chocolate, something & talking in code.