Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "bubbly"

Opera Lambrusco Hits High Notes

I could riff endlessly with puns about the Opera Lambrusco di Modena 2011.  It's a beautifully harmonious wine that just sings in the glass.  It sets the stage for a great meal.

Ok, I'm done.

In all seriousness, I'm finding Lambrusco to be a great wine when I'm feeling indecisive about what I'm in the mood to drink. It's multiple juxtapositions in a glass:  Chilled like a white but red; frizzante but not overtly bubbly; sweetly juicy but not dessert-like.  It satisfies multiple cravings at once, like chocolate-covered pretzels.

Let's take a recent Saturday, for example. My friend was visiting from Boston and after we did a few obligatory errands in the freezing cold, we decided the best course of action was to grab a glass of wine.  (Apparently, everyone else in NYC had the same idea; it took visits to 3 different wine bars to find one that could accommodate us.)

Safely ensconced in the warmth of Gottino, our attention turned to the wine list.  The thought of white wine left me feeling even chillier than I already was, but a warm red felt a bit heavy for early afternoon.  Bubbles had a brunch-like appeal, but traditional white sparklers weren't calling too me.



Viola!  Lambrusco!

The Opera Lambrusco di Modena 2011 had a bit of cotton candy, plum and raspberry on the nose.  On the palate, the same flavors appeared along with some bing cherry and red licorice.  What really made this wine notable were the frothy, foamy bubbles that rose up like meringue in the glass.


My interest in Lambrusco continues to grow and I foresee myself gravitating to them when they appear on wine lists.  When will this fascination end, you ask?  It ain't over till the fat lady sings (sorry, couldn't resist one more).

Keep tasting.....

Goldilocks and the 3 Bubblies

Once upon a time there was a girl named Goldilocks.*  One evening, close to New Year's Eve, the fair-haired maiden was invited to a party. Full of excitement and merriment, she donned her favorite party dress, glossed her lips and curled her hair in the most fetching manner.  She was just about ready to go but one thing was missing: a gift for the host.  Knowing she could not show up empty-handed, Goldilocks set out to find the perfect present.

Chocolates?  She wondered.  Flowers?  Our heroine wandered the chilly night pondering her options.  Just when she started to despair, the glowing lights of a wine store appeared in the distance.

Of course!  She would bring a bottle of bubbly.  With glee, she entered the shop.

Our leading lady first tried Clement Klur Cremant D'Alsace, a sparkling wine (but not champagne as it was not from the Champagne region) from France.   It was yeasty and toasty, with some notes of sour cream and green apple on the nose.  On the tongue, it was very dry and the baking bread tones again appeared.  But oh dear!  The bubbles felt like soda carbonation! "These bubbles are too harsh!" she declared.



Next, she saw a beautiful pink Cleto Chiarli Rose Spumante Brut de Noir Lambrusco from Italy.  Delicious strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb appeared right away on the nose.  On the tongue it was slightly fruity up front, rather toasty on the finish, dry and contained a decent amount of acidity.  Hmmm, she thought, this is very nice, but, alas, it was only lightly frizzante.  "These bubbles are too soft!"  she cried.



Our heroine was overcome with hopelessness, but just as she was about to leave, the kind shopkeeper brought out one more, a  Marc Hebrart Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne.  "Oooooh," she thought, and her eyes widened with the first sip.  Toast and yeast were prominent on the nose, along with pear and some yogurt/dairy tones.   The palate was similar in flavors, refreshingly dry and the refined, moussey bubbles danced on Goldilocks' tongue.  "This is just right!"  she announced.



With a twinkle in his eye, the shopkeeper wrapped up this treasure and our heroine skipped off into the night.

*These characters are a work of fiction and any resemblance to real-life people is purely coincidental.  Trust me.  The last time I tried to style my hair with a curling iron I ended up burning my ear.

Because Nothing Says Thanksgiving Like Champagne

I wonder what the Pilgrims drank on the first Thanksgiving.  Mead?  Cider?  Or maybe they abstained from alcohol altogether? A quick online search yielded few answers but I'm fairly certain they didn't put nearly as much thought into it as we do in modern society.  For the last few weeks, food columns, e-newsletters and the like were consumed with pairing the perfect wine with The Big Feast. I understand wanting to creating the optimal experience at the table, but when the meal is as complex as Thanksgiving dinner,  there's no straightforward answer.  To this, I abide by the cardinal rule of wine:  drink whatever you enjoy.  There's no better formula than: delicious food + delicious wine = amazing dinner.

For my family, that meant rose champagne.  My mother, always excited to be introduced to something new, bought a bottle of champagne that would supposedly appeal to my Ruinart Rose-loving palate.  For weeks, she had been talking about this bottle; a salesperson at her favorite wine shop touted it as being very close to a Ruinart but at a more affordable price point. I was anxious to compare and she was looking forward to getting a (close) taste of my favorite sparkler. Needless to say, there were a lot of expectations riding on its cork.  So, what did we think?




Champagne Montaudon Brut Grande Rose
This sparkler was very dry, more than expected.  On the nose, white pepper and yeasty notes added savory tones to subtle peach and strawberry essences.  On the tongue, light mousse-y bubbles gave way to a long finish and the same characters on the nose announced themselves on the tongue as well.    It was  deliciously complex and robust and made great friends with Turkey & Co.  I still have a slight preference for the Ruinart , with its the rich round mouthfeel of its bubbles and the berry tones, but this Montaudon was the perfect accompaniment to the meal and is a noteworthy sparkler for my list.

Now, what to drink with leftovers....