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Versatility is not a term often used to describe a wine, particularly sparkling wine, which typically is associated with special occasions. But sparkling wine, with its many styles, can create memorable moments beyond the celebratory toast.
In fact, sparkling wine (note that all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne) is one of the most versatile wines in the world. Firstly, it is light in body and high in acidity, two attributes that make it wonderful for food pairing. Secondly, it comes in many different styles, from a brut (dry style) made from 100 percent Chardonnay, to Rose, to Blanc de Noir (made from red grapes, often Pinot Noir). Lastly, sparkling wine is made in all parts of the world and sold at many different price points. Thus, you have options depending upon your use and budget.
I recommend planning an all-sparkling wine evening with friends or loved ones to see how dynamic and enjoyable it can be. With Valentine’s Day almost here, this weekend could be the ideal time to experiment. Here is what I suggest:
* For a reception as your guests arrive or you kicking off your romantic evening: Prosecco from Italy. This wine is frizzante (lightly sparkling) and is lovely with a variety of hors d’oeuvres.
* For the first course: a brut or Blanc de Blanc (white wine from white grapes, typically Chardonnay) from California. Great with fish or shellfish.
* For the entrée: time for Champagne; a tete de cuvee (reserve level or a producer’s best bottling) or Rose. Its richer style can pair nicely with pork, veal or even a filet of beef.
* For the sweets, go back to Italy. If chocolate is involved, Bracchetto d’Acqui. A fruit dessert calls for Moscato d’Asti.
This week’s guest blog is by George Staikos, noted educator and founder of The Educated Grape, a company dedicated to interactive wine classes, tastings and special events.
A 25-year veteran of the wine and hospitality industry, George Staikos is known for his role as an educator, sharing his passion for wine appreciation. He is the founder and president of the Educated Grape, a company specializing in interactive education programs and in-home wine entertaining for wine enthusiasts and companies. He is a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s International School of Hospitality Management, where he teaches “Introduction to the Study of Wine.” He is also Vice Echanson or regional wine director for the mid-Atlantic region for the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a worldwide food-and-wine organization.
Staikos is a graduate of Florida International University in Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. He is married with three children and lives in Flemington.