What’s the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine? Only white sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. All other wines that bubble should be referred to as sparkling wine.
Whatever you call the wine, bubbles are synonymous with celebration, so it’s no surprise that the season is overflowing with sparklers—especially in the heart of Napa.
Eileen Crane, CEO and founding winemaker of Napa's , is particularly well versed on the subject: She produces three traditional styles of sparkling wine.
“Rosé sparkling is hot on both East and West coasts. It’s such a beautiful color and seems especially festive this time of year,” said Crane. “I like our rosé sparkling with a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding on Christmas day.”
When I asked Crane what she plans to toast with on New Year’s Eve, she didn’t hesitate. “I start New Year's Eve dinner with a bottle of our Le Reve Blanc de Blancs. Le Reve means 'the dream' and a great dream should always be the way to start a new year.”
Chef/proprietor Cindy Pawlcyn, of Mustards Grill fame, (and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen and the new Brassica) plans to toast New Years with Schramsberg J Schram. Or maybe she’ll get sentimental and toast with her wedding wine, Mumm DVX.
What will she serve with it?
“Smoked wild salmon, buckwheat blini and crème fraiche garnished with minced chives and fresh black pepper,” Pawlcyn said.
Al Jabarin, proprietor of , plans to feature Schramsberg as a special at his Bubble Bar’s New Years' Eve celebration.
As far as food matches, he believes that sparkling is versatile, and particularly delicious with “goat Gouda cheese, risotto with mushroom or cream sauce, lobster, and most seafood.
"And let's not forget the berries and dark chocolate,” added Jabarin. No, let’s not!
The general consensus is that sparkling wines are flexible enough to be paired with whatever your heart desires.
Well, almost anything. According to Crane, “maybe not candy canes”.
What if one prefers to skip the bubbles and toast with still wine?
“In my opinion,” said Jabarin, “there is no alternative to a good sparkling. But of course, if a choice must be made, some high-acidity sauvignon blanc or white Burgundy will work.”
Chandler Alexander, winemaker and owner of Alexander Wines, is a producer of still wines. But he knows what to do with a good bottle of bubbles.
“Oysters and crab, typically with Schramsberg. But it’s been such a crazy year, I may have to spring for Krug,” Alexander said.
And what better time to slip into decadent mode?
Confessed Crane, “My favorite time to drink sparkling is New Year’s morning, in bed, with a little tin of caviar for breakfast.”