Food & Drink
Lively and Refreshing Sparkling Wines You Can Enjoy in the Summer
An ideal choice for the season's outdoor soirees, sparkling wines are crisp, clean, and refreshing, and the perfect match for all your summertime menus.
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I have always found it silly when people talk about reserving bottles of bubbly exclusively for the holiday season. Even less understandable to the sparkling wine lover in me is when bottles of fizz are marked for special occasions only—a rule of consumption that relies way too heavily on chance. Opening a good wine, effervescent or otherwise, is clearly its own special occasion and a reason for celebration.


The hesitation to enjoy a glass of Champagne outside a festive fête is not uncommon, unfortunately, and it would seem that it and other sparkling wines have fallen victim to their own strategic marketing campaigns. All those advertising dollars spent have definitely delivered the message effectively: when celebrating, Champagne is the libation of choice. Many of us carry a distinct image of a popping cork next to a Christmas tree, where clanking flutes are not far behind—and let’s not forget the spraying of fizz and foam as a sacred step in the consecration of victories large or small. That the industry has marketed this wine as the first bottle one grabs when celebrating may indeed be a disservice to the wine itself since we often forget that like any other white wine, Champagne, cava, prosecco, or any other sparkling from around the world can and should be enjoyed anytime of year.

It’s almost humorous to have to make a case for some of the most elegant, versatile, and food-friendly wines out there. But when the days are long and the weather is at its best, there is nothing like reaching for a glass of lively and refreshing sparkling wine that makes the best of times even better.

Sparkling Wines from California and Great Britain

Summer is the time to expand your sparkling horizons, and there are many New World wines that deserve your attention. From California, the Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc is an easy contender. Made from 100 percent chardonnay, the style is dry and crisp, with good structure. Its bouquet is predominantly a mix of white and tropical fruit with floral notes and hints of vanilla and citrus. Although it is capable of aging for many years to come, you may want to open it immediately, and that wouldn’t be wrong. Enjoy with raw and cooked seafood, as well as with creamy pastas.

Just about all wine enthusiasts are talking about British sparkling wine these days. Berry Bros. & Rudd English Sparkling Wine Brut, produced by Gusbourne Estate, one of the most respectable English winemakers based in Kent, is another blanc de blanc worthy of your attention. Its floral bouquet is complemented by the flavors of citrus fruit and nuts, good minerality, and a pleasing soft texture on the palate.

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Prosecco

Soft in the mouth yet crisp and refreshing, prosecco from the Veneto region in northeastern Italy is having its moment. Made only from glera grapes, these wines are characterized by a fruity and floral aroma, and are best enjoyed as an aperitif alongside cured meat and cheese (think prosciutto and a wedge of Parmigiano). Because of the strong presence of fruit, they also pair well with more robust flavors like Thai curries and sushi. Vaporetto and Fantinel, both DOC wines, are wonderful prosecco choices, as is Spagnol Col de Sas Dry NV from the prestigious DOCG zone of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, where many of these great wines hail.

Cava

Spanish cava is a sparkling white wine that takes its name from the stone cellars, or cavas, in which it is matured. Also made in the classic traditional method, and similar to Champagne in style, the range in cava runs from very austere to rich and fruity depending on the maker. Some easy favorites include the Ondarre Millenium Brut, a wine that is lively on the palate, the clean and powerful Masachs Brut Riserva, and the dry, crisp, and complex Perelada Stars Brut Nature. Also noteworthy is the Anna Codorniu Brut Rosé made from pinot noir and chardonnay. This vibrant and balanced “blushing sister” of the house’s brut style wine pairs well with just about everything, from shellfish and fruit salad to lechon.

French Champagne and Cremant

Of course there is no shortage of summer Champagne to choose from. Bollinger and Billecarte-Salmon are some of the finest examples of the French sparkling wine that started it all. Both wines are blended from pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier. With their fine bubbles, high acidity, and aromatic nose of ripe fruit and spice, they both work well with summer’s lighter fare. The full-bodied Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve is another sage choice for the season. Redolent of white fruits such as pear and apple, and with a distinct nutty flavor of almonds and hazelnuts, this is a great wine to pair with chilled seafood and crispy fried food.

We all know that tannins from the red grapes work well with burgers and most barbecued meats, so rosés are a seasonal favorite. Champagne Geoffroy Rose De Saignee and Champagne Laherte Freres Rose De Saignee are two excellent picks. Both rosés are incidentally made using the saignée technique, one rarely seen in Champagne. The Champagne Geoffroy is fresh and best enjoyed young, while the Champagne Laherte is bolder and more intense, and can be aged a bit. Its concentration comes from the 100 percent pinot meunier fruit grown on vines that date back as early as 1953.

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Another delicious choice that shows much finesse is the Thienot Brut Rosé, made by a relatively young wine house in Champagne. Its delicate aromatic style, driven by red fruit, showcases the maison’s winemaking philosophy and craftsmanship.

For those in search of a poolside sipper, Moët Ice Imperial happens to be the first Champagne created especially to be served over ice—yes, you read that right, and yes, it is a tasty and refreshing summertime treat. Intensely fruit-forward in both flavor and aroma, this wine is yet another option for outdoor drinking.

Cremants, or French sparkling wine made outside of the Champagne region but using the méthode champenoise, are also good options for this time of year. Sieur d’Arques Aimery Grande Cuvee Cremant 1531 NV from the Cremant de Limoux appellation in southern France is fresh and refined with pleasant acidity, offering the flavors and bouquet of green apples, white blossoms, and honey.

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Alicia Colby Sy
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