Fans of sparkling wine tend to hopscotch between Champagne and Prosecco, depending on the occasion and the drinker’s buying budget. They’re missing out. While England is not traditionally known as a producer of fine wine (to put it mildly), the quality of the country’s bubbly is changing that perception in a hurry. It’s not an overstatement to say that you can find English sparkling wines that rival many of France’s finest Champagnes—but for a fraction of the cost. Ridgeview Bloomsbury Brut ($36) and Digby Fine English Leander Pink Brut ($65) are stunners.
Personally, I hopscotch between California sparkling wine (Domaine Carneros mostly) and crémants (Aimery brut rose’) from Loire.
While I was in Hawaii this past week, I found the selection of sparkling wines quite limited. The choices seem to revolve around some inexpensive Proseccos, or the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot. But I knew I could find a crémant, the Veuve du Vernay at the Whaler’s General Store in Poipu.
Our local “Wine Line” writer, Russ Winton, has an informative wine column every other week. In particular, I enjoyed a quote of Alexis Lichine, a Russian writer, who played a key role in promoting varietal labeling of New World wines. In 1986, he wrote in Wine Country Magazine, how the wine industry’s elitist attitudes were turning consumers away from wine.
Here are some quotes: “We musn’t make a cult of wine. Some of our self-appointed wine snobs with their pomposity have done more to hurt the cause of wine than anything I can think of. I’ve tried to dispel the layman’s fears. Drink the wine you like best, I tell them. Trust your palate. Never mind the so-called experts.” He goes on, “The selection of wine is a personal choice. You should not be influenced by what people say. If it tastes good to you, then drink it. Enjoy it. Learn to trust your palate and to heck with the wine snobs.”
As I read about wine in general, I find little mention of sparkling wines. Yet, these same people tout sparkling and champagne only during the holidays. I prefer to drink sparkling as an everyday beverage, not as a special occasion wine. I encourage you to do the same.