December is definitely the happiest, sparkliest month of the year. The holidays are here, and there are celebrations galore! It’s the time to reflect on the year that’s fleeting by us, filled with gratitude. We must also, create space for good things to come, and usher in the new year.
Great celebrations call for great sparkling wine. Domaine Ste. Michelle’s sparkling wines are here to provide bubbles for these special occasions. Cheers to friends and family, to tables groaning with food, and to health and happiness. Here are some sparkling wines to make the holidays even brighter….
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut ($13)
This bubbly is bright and citrusy and works well with party appetizers like a cheese platter, jalapeno poppers, and even sushi and sashimi. It is a great wine to serve with brunch. At just $13, this wine gives good bang for your buck too! Paula Eakin, the winemaker says, “Delicate aromas of green apple, bright citrus notes with a persistent bubble and balanced acidity. Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut is the perfect accompaniment for a wide array of foods.”
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rose ($13)
This is the perfect wine for a winter pajama party. The pretty pink hue and lightly sweet taste make this vino great for a girl’s night in or a sundowner soiree! Eakins says, “Aromas of ripe strawberry with hints of apple and citrus. The initial impression is lively yet dry with subtle spice and berry flavors followed by an elegant, delicately sweet finish.” This wine goes along fabulously with leafy salads, tapas-style plates, and seafood.
Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe ($25)
This effervescent wine has a rich, full-bodied flavor. Eakins tells us, “ A fine bubble, with soft floral notes, ripe fruit, and a slight minerality; white lily, violets, and fresh berries combine with a hint of apple. Refreshing and refined palate followed by citrus peel finish.” This fruit-forward wine is a great match for garlicky, cheesy Italian dishes like lasagna and risotto. It is particular great with chocolate and fruit-based desserts like chocolate souffle, berry tart or pineapple pudding.
As you break out the delicious bubbly – you may wonder what the deal with U.S sparkling wine is, and how is it different from champagne. Domaine Ste. Michelle’s head sparkling winemaker, Paula Eakin helps get to the bottom of it….
Seattleite: What’s the difference between champagne and sparkling wine?
Paula Eakin: Tradition dictates that only sparkling wines made from grapes grown and produced in the Champagne region of France can be called “Champagne.” The wine industry is rich in tradition, and we’ve chosen to respect this important historical distinction. Domaine Ste. Michelle is crafted in the same way as traditional Champagnes, using Méthode Champenoise, but our grapes are grown in Washington state. With our home in the Pacific Northwest, Domaine Ste. Michelle is referred to as sparkling wine.
Seattleite: What is Methode Champenoise and why does it matter?
Paula Eakin: Methode Champenoise sometimes referred to as the “traditional” method of making Champagne and sparkling wine dates back to 1693. A sign of quality and a nod to tradition, it requires the secondary fermentation to be in the bottle rather than a tank.
This “traditional” method of producing sparkling wine creates exceptional quality with refined, delicate bubbles that last much longer. It also yields a wine with more complex secondary flavors due to fermentation and aging on the lees. Although slow and laborious, this method is worth the wait and sometimes increased price. Every bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle will state Methode Champenoise on the front of the bottle.
Seattleite: What’s the difference between Prosecco and Sparkling Wine?
Paula Eakin: Prosecco is required by the DOC in Italy to be made with a majority of the “glera” grape varietal, while American sparkling winemakers have the freedom in selecting a blend of varietals to achieve the desired style. Domaine Ste. Michelle uses a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier from more than one vintage to create a consistent style. Our Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe Sparkling is particularly unique because it sits on the lees for 3 years adding layers of complex flavors and textures to the final wine.
Also, Prosecco achieves its bubbly nature though the “Charmat” or “tank” method of secondary fermentation. This difference yields wines with very different characteristics and qualities. Prosecco’s “Charmat” method yields a simpler taste profile due to the lack of fermentation, aging on lees, and creates larger bubbles that dissipate quickly. This is due to the lower pressure environment of tank fermentation versus bottle fermentation. Although both can be enjoyed, higher quality usually comes from the Methode Champenoise method.
Seattleite: What sets Domaine Ste. Michelle sparkling wine apart from its competitors?
Paula Eakin: Sparkling wine is one of the fastest-growing segments in the United States. Both Washington and California produce tons of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. Although generally, cooler vineyards produce the style of grapes best suited for sparkling wine. This is where Washington really shines. Similar to the Champagne district in France, Washington benefits from extra-long daylight hours and cool growing temperatures. Domaine Ste. Michelle also offers consistent, high-quality sparkling wines year after year with an amazing price.
Seattleite: What’s your favorite meal to serve with Domaine Ste. Michelle?
Paula Eakin: Sparkling wine pairs with so many different types of food. The first thing that comes to mind is tamales, fried rice, and some fruits. I will say that one of my favorite meals with sparkling wine is turkey along with all the wonderful sides. But on a Friday night, my go-to with Domaine Ste. Michelle is Washington State Cougar Gold cheese or Beecher’s Flagship cheese.