Wine Tasting Dinner: Sparkling Wine for the Holidays



By Kori ~ December 15th, 2010.

As 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’ve made it a tradition to feature sparkling wine in our December wine tasting dinner. Each December, we select 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.

These sparkling wines were all produced in the United States (three from California, two from Washington, and one from Oregon). All six wines were Brut (or dry, the most common style). 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), and all six sell for less than $25.

All of these sparkling wines paired nicely with Mom’s dinner menu which included roasted red pepper tomato soup, shrimp Louie salad, broiled lobster tails, steamed asparagus, buttered pasta with parmesan reggiano cheese, and strawberry-raspberry shortcake for dessert.

I encourage you to pick up a bottle of any of these six sparklers 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:

2006 Argyle Brut Sparkling Wine (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Pale, straw yellow. Small, fast bead of bubbles. Very aromatic with aromas of lemon, lime, and passion fruit. More citrus fruits and tropical fruits come through on the palate along with some yeasty notes. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced and flavorful with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $19.99; Available elsewhere, $18 to $31

NV Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale, straw yellow. Small, fairly fast bead of bubbles. Moderately aromatic with citrus and yeasty notes on the nose. A lot of citrus fruits, especially lemon and lime, come through on the palate. Dry, medium-bodied and tart 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, Washington), $8.99; Available elsewhere, $7 to $12

2006 Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvée (Carneros, Napa Valley, California): Pale, straw yellow. Small, fast bead of bubbles. Nice nose with floral, pear, and apple aromas. Bright and fresh on the palate with more floral and apple notes. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced 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, Washington), $21.99; Available elsewhere, $19 to $32

NV Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut (North Coast, California): Pale, straw yellow with a faint amber tint. Medium, fairly fast bead of bubbles. Nose is a bit tight at first. Then pear, straw, and yeasty aromas and flavors come through. Dry, medium-bodied and crisp with a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $19.79; Available elsewhere, $17 to $26

NV Chandon Brut Classic (California): Pale, straw yellow. Small, fast bead of bubbles. Moderately aromatic with straw and apple aromas that lead to more apple, straw, and pear flavors. Dry, medium-bodied and crisp with a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $13.99; Available elsewhere, $13 to $16

NV Mountain Dome Cuvée Forté (Washington State): Pale, greenish straw yellow. Small, fast bead of bubbles. Aromatic with nutty, yeasty, and straw aromas on the nose. More straw, nutty, and yeasty flavors as well as lemon come through on the palate. Dry, medium-bodied and crisp with a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $24.62; Available elsewhere, $33


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

Reader's Comments

  1. Steve Howe | December 15th, 2010 at 8:59 am

    You’ve got some great choices on this list and they don’t cost an arm and a leg!

  2. Martin Redmond | December 15th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Nice post. I’ve tried the NV Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut, and another Argyle sparkler so I’ll know they’re very good. I prefer the NV Chandon Blanc de Noir to the Brut Classic primarily I think because I prefer my sparklers to be dominated by Pinot Noir rather than Chard. You’ve given me some idea for more to try. Like you I tell myself I’m going to drink sparklers more often. Especially now that I’ve realized how food friendly they are! Happy Holidays!

  3. Whitney | December 17th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Wondering what wine to serve this holiday season can always be stressful! Here is the Spectators Topp 100 list too to help: http://www.sunset44.com/blog/2010/12/07/just-in-off-wine-spectators-top-100/

  4. Kori | December 22nd, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Steve,
    Thanks! Yes, QPR rules is this bunch.

    Martin,
    I, too, enjoy Pinot Noir-dominated sparklers. Maybe we’ll have an all Blanc de Noirs tasting sometime. That would be fun!

    Cheers!

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