Wine Tasting Dinner: Brut Sparkling Wine



By Kori ~ December 16th, 2009.

Sparkling WineAs I’ve said many times before, I absolutely love sparkling wine but do not drink it often enough. However this time of year, I make sure to celebrate with friends and family and enjoy some sparkling wine. We loved the sparkling wine tasting dinner we had last fall, so we decided to have another one during this holiday season. We selected six sparkling wines to blind taste to help us, and hopefully you as well, choose an excellent sparkling wine to enjoy as an aperitif at a holiday party, to take to relatives on Christmas, or to pop on New Year’s Eve.

For you regular readers who are wondering why we have had two of our monthly wine tasting dinners on back-to-back Fridays during the same month, this sparkling wine tasting dinner was the regularly scheduled December dinner and last week’s Syrah dinner was a reschedule from November when a winter bug was making its way through our family.

We had a wide range of bubbly in this tasting—four from the United States (two from California, and one each from Washington and Oregon), one from France, and one from Spain. While these wines came from all over the globe, the one thing they all had in common is that they were all Brut (or dry, the most common style). For further explanation of sparkling wine terms, refer back to my Sparkling Wine: Where Extra Dry is not really extra dry post from last year. Interestingly, the U.S. sparkling wines finished 1-2-3-4, followed by the Spanish Cava and then the French Champagne. Most important, as far as we are concerned, is that five out of the six wines earned QPR ratings of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

All of these sparkling wines paired nicely with Mom’s dinner menu which included curried butternut squash soup, shrimp Louie salad, broiled lobster tails, creamy twice baked potatoes, roasted asparagus, and Swiss meringues with ice cream and fresh strawberries for dessert.

Lineup of Brut Sparkling WineIf you haven’t had one of the top four sparklers listed below, I encourage you to pick up a bottle to enjoy this holiday season. And if you don’t see your favorite sparkling wine on this list, let us know in the comments as we’d like to try it.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

NV J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Sparkling Wine (Russian River Valley, California): Small, very fast beads. Pale, straw yellow with toasted nut aromas. More nuts as well as citrus fruits come through on the palate. Crisp and complex. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (California), $22; Available elsewhere, $15 to $40

2006 Argyle Brut Sparkling Wine (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Pale, straw yellow and very aromatic. Aromas of lemon, lime, peach, and licorice lead to even more citrus flavors. Very crisp and flavorful with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $18; Available elsewhere, $19 to $26

NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige Sparkling Wine (Napa Valley, California): Pale, straw yellow with apple and pineapple aromas. Crisp yet creamy on the palate. Improves with food. Long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $15; Available elsewhere, $13 to $18

2004 Mountain Dome Brut Sparkling Wine (Washington State): Small, fast beads. Pale yellow with aromas and flavors of bread along with faint citrus notes. Crisp acidity and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle), $19; MadWine (Seattle), $21

NV Cristalino Brut Cava (Spain): Small, fast beads. Pale yellow in color. Nose is a bit tight. Butter and lemon zest aromas lead to more lemon flavors. Improves with food but comes off a bit flat.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (Californina), $8; Available elsewhere, $6 to $10

NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut (Reims, France): Pale, yellow gold. Oak and butter dominate the nose. Oak, butter, river rocks, and yeast come through on the palate. Crisp acidity with a long, slightly bitter, finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $37; Available elsewhere, $25 to $33


Filed under: American Wine, California Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, French Wine, Oregon Wine, Spanish Wine, Sparkling Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Wine Peeps: A Wine Blog » Wine Tasting Dinner: Brut Sparkling Wine | The Bottle and Cork - Napa and Sonoma Wine blog | December 16th, 2009 at 11:51 am

    [...] post:  Wine Peeps: A Wine Blog » Wine Tasting Dinner: Brut Sparkling Wine [...]

  2. Melinda | December 16th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I love sparkling wine and too often we think it has to be a special occasion to drink it. Not so! We served the Argyle at our wine dinner last month and it paired beautifully with the crab and brie tartlets we made. Cheers!

  3. Kori | December 16th, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Melinda,
    You are exactly right. Sparkling wine is not just for special occasions; it pairs well with a number of foods. Thanks for sharing your excellent pairing. Cheers!

  4. The gastronomic proposal of the Hotel Park Suites | Hotel Accommodation | December 18th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    [...] Wine Tasting Dinner: Brut Sparkling Wine (winepeeps.com) [...]

  5. Simona | December 23rd, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Kori, thanks for the tips. If you want more, have a look at:

    http://www.cellartours.com/blog/italy/wine/top-bubbly-selections-for-new-years-eve-from-france-italy-and-spain

    Salute!

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