Sommelier Norm Rush was one of the hosts for this BRAVO! Italian Restaurant’s Dec. 6 Champagne and sparkling wine tasting.
Photo by Julie Skipper.
Someone once asked Madame Lilly Bollinger (who managed Bollinger Champagne house from 1941 to 1971), "When do you drink Champagne?"
Her response was: "I only drink Champagne when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it—unless I'm thirsty."
I am fully on board with her sentiment; I see no reason to relegate it to special occasions. Bubbles make everything better, I say, and can turn any time into an occasion.
That being the case, I always eagerly anticipate BRAVO! Italian Restaurant's annual Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting each December. This year's event marked the 18th installment (and my sixth time to attend it). Over the years, it's grown in popularity and become a tradition for so many folks that the BRAVO! team this year decided to do two tastings: one on Dec. 6 and another on Dec. 13.
At the Dec. 6 event, my man and I donned some casual-chic leather to set a celebratory mood and settled in.
Sommeliers Lesley McHardy, Kelly Boutwell and Norm Rush hosted the event. After Rush welcomed everyone with an overview of sparkling wine, McHardy and Boutwell took over to walk us through the six offerings of the day.
At the offset, we were reminded that while all Champagne is sparkling wine, not all sparkling wine is Champagne. That is, to be called Champagne, a bottle must be wine made from Champagne, the largest appellation d'origine controlee (controlled designation of origin), which is a designation that links a product closely with its geographical origin. Champagne's basic types include blanc de blancs made exclusively from white grapes (say, 100 percent chardonnay); blanc de noirs made exclusively from red grapes; and rose made from any combination of two or three of the varieties. (Rose is a pink color because the juice is macerated with red-grape skins).
Our tasting included three sparkling wines and three Champagnes.
Before beginning, McHardy noted that our tasting was from white-wine glasses. While confessing that this was actually because they didn't have enough flute glasses on hand to accommodate the tasting, she explained that drinking sparkling wine from white wine glasses is actually a trend in the wine world these days. If you care about appreciating the nose (the aroma) of the wine, serving it in a regular wine glass allows more oxygen to enter the wine, so more of the aroma is released.
With preliminary matters out of the way, we were ready to taste. First up were three sparkling varieties: a prosecco (prosecco is the sparkling wine from Italy), a French brut reserve blend, and a cava (Spanish sparkling wine).
After that, we moved on to three Champagnes: a non-vintage Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut, a very bubbly blend of pinot noir and chardonnay; a creamy blanc de blanc and; to finish, a non-vintage rose that smelled as pretty as it looked.
With a little more knowledge of bubbly, I left feeling ready for the holiday season, but also with tasting notes in hand so that I can incorporate more bubbles and celebration into life in general.
For more information on tastings at BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-8111), visit bravobuzz.com.