First, know that there are levels of sweetness when it comes to sparkling wine and that bottles are usually labeled according to such levels. Brut sparkling wine has little or no sweetness. Extra brut wines are even drier. Confusingly, extra dry refers to sparkling wine that is a bit sweeter than ones labeled brut. Sweeter still are sparkling wines labeled sec and dry followed by sweet, dessert wines labeled demi-sec and doux.
Second, note that a lot of countries make great sparkling wines. There is Champagne, made in the namesake region of France and generally regarded as the best sparkling wine around. Of note are the sparkling wines made in Spain and Italy—namely Cava and Prosecco, respectively—and their growing popularity due to their affordability and delightful flavor characteristics. Sparkling wines from Portugal and Germany are called Espumante and Sekt, respectively. There are also stellar sparkling wines from California’s Napa and Sonoma counties.
With a so many options out there, be sure to have fun hunting for the ones that most pique your interest at the various wine stores and bars throughout the South Bay. Artisan Wine Depot in downtown Mountain View is a great place to start thanks to their wide range of selections and knowledgeable, friendly staff.
Third, sparkling wine is served chilled, but for particularly fine sparkling wines, be sure to serve them a bit closer to room temperature to fully bring out the aromas and flavors.
Lastly, consider the sparkling wine offerings at the various South Bay wineries, such as Kirigin Cellars and Fortino Winery both in Gilroy, and Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. Here’s a sweet, flavorful tip: mix the sparkling wine from Kirigin Cellars with their popular Vino de Mocha—a dessert wine with strong chocolate and coffee flavors. In fact, it’s what we’ll be drinking on New Year’s Eve, along with some tasty beers of course.
Artisan Wine Depot (two Mountain View locations): artisanwinedepot.com
Kirigin Cellars kirigincellars.com
Fortino Winery fortinowinery.com
Guglielmo Winery guglielmowinery.com