“Bollicine” means “bubbles” in Italian. It’s a word Italians use to talk about sparkling wine, like an English speaker would say “bubbly”, and for my first wine tasting event, I thought a bit of bubbly would only be appropriate. (As I’m based in Italy the event was in Italian).
Most of my guests were not very experienced wine drinkers, so I prepared a small booklet with some information about the wines to read at their own leisure. I was surprised to find that they were actually very curious and full of questions, making the evening all the more engaging. We eat and drink so often that we rarely take the time to think about and reflect on it, but it’s truly magical when you do because everything becomes exalted.
– There’s a lot of variety to choose from considering the different regions and styles from Champagne in France, to Prosecco and Franciacorta in Italy, to Cava in Spain, and so on.
-No two sparkling wines are the same. They are categorised by the amount of residual sugars in the wine ranging from pas dosé/zero dosaggio being the driest to doux/ dolce being the sweetest.
-sparkling wines are usually considered as an aperitivo before the meal or for moments of celebration, but they are actually incredible versatile with food pairings and can accompany an entire meal.
Drinking wines of a similar style together is a great opportunity to appreciate what they have in common and what makes each one different from the others. This was an essential factor for me in choosing these wines:
Bartolomiol Bandarossa Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry Millesemato 2017
Creamy, luscious and delicate. Light, straw yellow colour with a beautiful and delicate perlage, numerous, fine bubbles with persistence. Fresh aromas of pear, green apple, banana and white peach with subtle notes of white flowers. On the palate slightly sweet and creamy balanced by a nice acidity and a gentle tingle from the bubbles, a lemon sherbet finish with a bit of tropical fruit. Juicy, well balanced and harmonious. Not your typical zippy Prosecco, but nonetheless an excellent choice. This was the sweetest and also most gentle of the three wines with a subdued intensity and creamy mouthfeel.
Contadi Castaldi Brùt Franciacorta Brut
Grapes: 80% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir, 10% PinotBianco
Opulent and expansive without being excessive. Crispy, creamy and exquisitely on point. Brilliant straw yellow colour with clearly defined strings of bubbles that persistently rise in the glass. Expansive aromas on the nose showing freshness, complexity and depth starting from crisp aromas of citrus, pear and green apple, opening to floral aromas including honey suckle and magnolia, and closing with more mature notes of oak biscuits, canned pineapple, almonds and honey. On the palate a great balance between acidity and roundness, intense flavours with returning aromas of pear, biscuits and almonds, ending in a lasting finish with a pomegranate persistence. Definitely the most popular of the evening, perhaps because the predominance of Chardonnay which is in most people’s comfort zone.
Philipponnat Royale Réserve Brut Champagne
Grapes: 65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier
Intriguing, expressive and warm with power and refinement. Luminous, straw yellow colour with gold hues and an elegant perlage with fine, persistent bubbles. Warm aromas of citrus, mandarin, cranberry, orange blossom, magnolia, dried roses, dried apricot, vanilla, toasted nuts and brioche expressing complexity with subdued intensity. On the palate it is powerful and well balanced with high acidity and minerality and a bit of sweetness. Intense flavours and quite aggressive bubbles with a long persistence of pomegranate and plum. This was the most complex and austere wine of the evening, leaving some guests perplexed and champagne lovers excited!
The dish in itself is already harmonious as the juicy, fatness of the mozzarella is balanced by the saltiness of the anchovies. Because sparkling wine could become too aggressive with highly salty food, I choose a sweeter Prosecco. Paired with this extra dry Prosecco this harmony of the dish is enhanced as the acidity and effervescence of the bubbles cleans the palate and a touch of sweetness completes the taste profile.
Fresh anchovies were used this time, baked in the oven with potato purée, herbs and breadcrumbs to create a fragrant, savoury and delicate dish. The fruit and floral aromas of the wine compliment the seafood and herbal aromas of the dish with equal persistence and the acidity and effervescence of the bubbles cleans the palate of their starchy elements, creating a sophisticated harmony.
A creamy risotto with sweet, sautéed zucchini flowers is enriched by the earthy flavour of smoked provola and the citrus of lemon zest. It’s a highly aromatic dish which calls for a wine that is equally rich. This champagne does not disappoint with intense aromas of red fruits and spices and a persistent perlage and structure. The result is a delicious, rich combination with a refined harmony.
More wine tasting adventures to come!