Nothing makes an occasion more festive than Sparkling Wine. The pop of the cork, the rise of tiny bubbles and the gentle whoosh of foam in the glass—it’s romantic and special. But sparkling wines are not just for holidays and celebrations, they are also a fine choice for everyday meals and pair exceptionally well with a variety of foods.
Sparkling wine hails from the Champagne region of France and wines grown and produced there are labeled Champagne. In the United States we call our bubbles Sparkling Wine and they are made in a variety of methods. The traditional method called Méthode Champenoise, and the tank method called Charmat. The many styles include Blanc de Blanc–made entirely of white grapes, Blanc de Noir, and Rosé. Sparkling wines come in a range of sweetness levels from sugar called dosage that is added to the wine before corking the bottle. The most popular style is Brut with less than half a gram of sugar per glass. Extra Brut and Brut Nature have even less sugar resulting in a bone-dry wine.
Here are capsule reviews of some great sparkling wines you may find along the Wine Road.
Amista Sparkling Syrah Dry Creek Valley Morningsong Vineyards
Simply gorgeous deep ruby-cranberry color, with a fine bead and soft strawberry mousse nose. Luscious yet lithe on the palate with citrus and berry notes that float towards a delicate quince and orange finish that is zesty, balanced and alive with flavor. Pair with crab cakes or fresh fruit and cheese.
Balletto 2013 Brut Rosé
Unflappable and delicious this is a crowd pleaser in every way. Pale pink and bright with persistent bubbles. Notes of apple and spice and piecrust on the nose. Effervescent and fresh with juicy red fruit flavors and a deep long finish of that contains a hint of lavender and plums. Pair with everything!
Dashe Sparkling Wine
100% Chenin Blanc from the Heringer Vineyard in Clarksburg, California, this sparkler is pale gold in color with a creamy, toasty, croissant like nose. Tiny persistent bead of bubbles race to the top of the glass. Light, crisp, and floral with flavors of peach and apricot and a taught minerality make this eminently pairable with a variety of foods.
Iron Horse 2013 Winter’s Cuvée
Elegant and refined the Winter’s Cuvée is a classic sparkling wine offering great structure and supple body. The nose is a crush of red berries and hazelnuts with bright citrus and apple. Tubes fans will get it when I say this has a distinct scent of Buddha’s hand (citrus) holding an apple. Really! Flavors of lime and stone fruit predominate, with a hint of jasmine and orange blossom. A versatile wine, it can pair well with everything from oysters to tamales.
Korbel 2015 Blanc de Noirs, Sonoma County
Dry and light with an almond nose with tart red apple and savory notes of spiced nuts and honey. Great body and bright finish. Pair with truffle popcorn or pork tacos
Korbel 2015 Le Premier, Sonoma County
Lovely bead of bubbles suspended in a glow of golden yellow. Fresh baked bread on the nose. Dry and effervescent on the palate with notes of caramel, honey and toasted hazelnut with medium bubbles and long creamy finish with a tinge of nutmeg.
Portalupi 2018 Arrossire di Barnera, Pauli Ranch Vineyard
You don’t see much Sparking Wines made from Barbera, it’s rather rare, so try and get a bottle of this while you can. Deep magenta color full of rose on the nose, it opens into a delicious mélange of strawberries and cream on the palate. Velvety and balanced, it glides to the finish with fresh juicy finesse and effervescent style.
Woodenhead 2015 Brut Rose Russian River Valley
Blushing pink with frothy, creamy mousse that delivers a wonderful nose full of raspberry and Rainier cherry. Fine bead of bubbles stream up the glass with juicy red fruit flavors and a balance of acid and ginger spice on the finish.
Woodenhead 2013 Blanc de Blanc Russian River Valley Buena Tierra Vineyard
100% Chardonnay Sparkling Wine full of crisp apple, lemon mousse and creamy brioche on the nose. Tropical flavors of pineapple and mandarin and a delightful butterscotch note weaves in to the mix at mid palate with a pleasant flinty finish. Pair with mac and cheese.