Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Add Some Sparkle to Your Soirees

For years, I found the idea of drinking champagne much better than the actual experience. The taste was disappointing and the toasting always left me with a beastly headache. That’s because I was filling my flute with inexpensive bubbles. Turns out, I wasn’t quaffing the real deal- which comes ONLY from a specific district in France and can’t be had for anything close to $20 a bottle. Even the quality equivalent of Two Buck Chuck
or Yellowtail costs $40-$50. I didn’t know that cheap champagne is an oxymoron. Doesn’t exist. Anything that purports otherwise is a bad imitation, a poseur in a bottle.
Photo by Barney Taxel

Then I discovered prosecco. And popping the cork became much more pleasurable. This sparkling wine comes from northern Italy and is made primarily from a white grape native to the Veneto region in the foothills of the Alps. It’s clean, crisp, light bodied, and fizzy with a flavor that marries citrus to honey. Happily it is easy to find and there are many good choices in the $12-17 range.
I turned to local expert Bob Fishman, owner of The Grapevine, an excellent wine store in Cleveland Heights, for some specific recommendations this season. He’s raving about Ca’tuillo, a dry prosecco that retails for $14.99, and a slightly sweeter version from Bortolotti at $15.99. Another option is their less bubbly, lower alcohol cousin frizzante- try the San Simone for $12.99. Someone else is supplying the beverages for the New Year’s eve party I’m attending but in preparation for what I hope will be many celebrations of all sorts in 2010, I plan to keep all three on hand. Other sparklers I'm just beginning to explore are sekt from Germany and Spanish cava. My education will involve much glass clinking.

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