‘Tis the season to celebrate, and there’s no better way to enjoy the holidays than with a bottle of bubbly.
“Sparkling wine is a natural pairing with celebrations. The holiday season is filled with friends, family and toasting all we have to be grateful and thankful for,” says Kelsey Cheslock, the marketing and social media coordinator at Sparkling Pointe in Southold.
A happy accident, champagne—much like lobster—was once considered a bottom-of-the-barrel indulgence. In the 1400s, a cold snap in Europe disrupted the fermentation process, causing an excess of carbon dioxide. Snubbed for centuries, the fizzy drink was later perfected by a monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon in the late 1600s, and the rest is history. Or, more accurately, has been used to celebrate history.
Although only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France can rightfully be called “Champagne,” Long Island produces its own, equally delectable fizzy libations.
“Sparkling wine is super festive,” says Suellen Tunney, the retail sales director at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. “For us, it’s a very special, small production item, so we run out of it—we always like to say it’s for special occasions.” Wölffer’s sparkling wines are handmade in the méthode champenoise style, taking three years to craft. The care and time put into creating each vintage elevate the prestige, adding to the notion that sparkling wines should be saved for special occasions.
Méthode champenoise, the traditional method used in the French Champagne region, involves a double fermentation process. As the only winery in New York State dedicated solely to the production of sparkling wines, Sparkling Pointe exclusively produces using the méthod champenoise. “Sparkling wine automatically elevates one’s mood, and holding a champagne flute provides a sense of sophistication,” says Cheslock. “The bubbles found in our méthode champenoise sparkling wines are very fine on the palate and give a crispness that no other variety of wine can provide!”
Of course, another aspect of the fun is pairing sparkling wine with food. Here’s a rundown of what to bring to your holiday table:
Sparkling Pointe 2006 Brut Seduction: A great aperitif with sharp cheeses that also pairs nicely with crispy potato latkes, lobster with drawn butter, mushrooms and honey glazed ham.
Sparkling Pointe NV Cuvée Carnaval Rouge: The wine has notes of cherries, cinnamon and cardamom. This wine would complement a Thanksgiving dinner of roasted turkey, homemade cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes perfectly. The sweetness of this wine pairs nicely with savory foods to balance flavors.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard Noblesse Oblige Extra Brut Sparkling Rosé: This versatile wine is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. Sparkling rosés pair well with hors d’oeurves, including charcuterie, or cured meats, particularly salami; oysters and shrimp cocktail. It’s a nice, full-bodied sparkling wine that also pairs well with dinner, particularly a dish like lobster risotto. Earthy foods like mushrooms work well due to the wine’s inclusion of pinot noir grapes. This sparkling wine also stands out because of its color, as the pale pink hue adds a touch
Laurel Lake Moscato Sparkling: One of Laurel Lake’s most popular wines, the sparkling moscato boasts a tropical flavor with tones of ripe peach and pineapple. Moscato blends soft acidity with sweetness, adding to its sipping pleasure. The varietal is an ideal after dinner wine, served alone or paired with strong cheeses and mildy acidic fruits.
Lieb Cellars 2010 Blanc de Blancs: This méthod champenoise sparkling wine is made from pinot blanc grapes that have aged an average of three years. This brut sparkler boasts a nose redolent of green apple and pear, accented by hints of citrus, honey and yeast. Pairs well with caviar, oysters and smoked fish; or with rich desserts like chocolate mousse, crème brûlée and baked Alaska.
Martha Clara Vineyards 2005 Crémant Blanc: Featuring aromas of fresh apple and citrus, this wine has a round, soft finish, with delicate complexity and finesse. Served best as an aperitif with canapés, shellfish, light chicken or veal dishes, and a dessert of poached pears.