Party wines that sparkle and bubble

Party wines that  sparkle and bubble
Champagne is the beverage of choice for revelers and party people on New Year’s Eve. Photo courtesy of BING

So you’re ready to party. 

There is nothing that tops a bottle of champagne or sparking wine to get you and your guests in the mood.

Pop the cork and let the fun begin.

New Year’s Eve just wouldn’t feel right unless some of that frou-frou bubbly in the fancy gold label was being passed and poured around.

All champagne and sparkling wine began as a wine varietal, but that’s where the similarity ends. To get to what winds up in these sparkle and bubble bottles is a complex process requiring secondary fermentation within the bottle in most brands. The average bottle of champagne contains enough carbon dioxide to produce 20 million bubbles. When the cork is popped, bubbles emerge at the rate of about 30 per second and absorb aromatic compounds from the liquid as they rise, adding to the flavor. At the surface, the bubbles explode spraying droplets of aromatic chemicals into the air, delivering a fragrant mist. There you have it in a nutshell, the physics of fizz. Here’s another party fact. This pent up carbon dioxide is so compressed, that when the champagne cork pops, it typically kicks out of the bottle’s neck at about 30 miles per hour, so be careful when opening.

All this fun is attributed to a 17th century monk named Dom Perignon, still a fabled name in high quality Champagne. The last time I checked, a 20-year-old Perignon was going for about $725.

High quality authentic Champagne comes from a valley of the River Marne about 75 miles from Paris. A “non-vintage” Champagne means the grapes, which are mostly made from Chardonnay, are blended from different harvest years to ensure consistency in each producer’s style. Red grapes used are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

After the secondary fermentation in the bottles to produce the bubbles, the bottles are aged on their sides for up to three years and undergo a process to create a number of specialized tastes.

Sparkling Rose is a popular alternative to Champagne, with Temecula’s Thornton Winery holding a leadership role with its 2005 Brut Rose.

Their traditional secondary fermentation in bottle (“Method Champenoise” technique) and five year aging, guarantees fragrant flavors ($29 at the winery).

Prosecco means tiny bubbles in Italian. It’s the vastly popular sparkling wine from Italy, selling over a million cases and growing at 35 percent annually. Women love it with the La Marca brand (from Gallo) leading the way ($13.97 at San Marcos North County Wine Co.)

It comes in bottles ranging from sweet to dry and fermented in huge tanks. It gets to market much faster resulting in pricing that is much less than Champagne. The La Marca brand is one of the most fruity with notes of melon and citrus.

How should your Champagne be prepared when you pop the cork?

A quote from James Bond in the 1964 movie “Goldfinger,” to a bar hostess says it all: “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ‘53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Anything else would be naughty naughty!

Wine Bytes

Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp downtown San Diego brings you a Champagne & Sparkling Wine tasting Dec. 28 from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Try bubbly from around the world, for $30. More info at (619) 236-0005.

The Winos R Us VIP Club is hosting a New Year’s Eve Party from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Marriott Del Mar. Cost is $30; DJ, free parking and first glass of wine free. Specials on dinner, rooms and breakfast. RSVP and details at (858) 369-6032.

Flemings in La Jolla First Friday of 2013 is Jan. 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Twenty different wines to taste and discover.

This event is “Cabernet vs. Merlot.” $25. RSVP at (858) 535-0078.

Wine Steals in Cardiff resumes their Wed. night tastings Jan. 9. 5:30 to 7 p.m. for just a $5 fee. First one will be the latest Zinfandels. Call (760) 230-2657.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His library can be viewed at tasteofwinetv.com. (Average Google certified 900 visits per day) He is one of the top five wine commentators on the Web. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.

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