Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year’s Eve and got a chance to taste a bit of wine, perhaps even a glass of bubbly or two. Our family celebration was small with tasty food, several types of beer and a variety of sparkling wines to choose from. This week, I’d like to share my thoughts on the three wines that we tried throughout the holiday week.

My choices for which three wines to buy for the week came down to a few factors: cost, sweetness level and compatibility with snack foods (Swedish meatballs, spring rolls, potstickers, pickles, chips and cheese). The most inexpensive of the three is the Henkell Trocken from Germany, which often goes on sale and features a blast of citrus and bready notes. This wine leaves off on a bitter note and the bubbles would be considered less than fine but I’ve always been a fan of this German sparkler due to its accessibility and affordability. It also pairs easily with many types of food.

My second favorite of the three wines is the Roscato Sparkling Moscato due to its creamy style and intense, fruity taste. I often stay away from Moscato as I find it to be too sweet, but the addition of carbonation (bubbles) and the lighter style made this a delicious choice. This wine blends incredibly well with orange juice and the wife I shared mimosas Christmas day before eying up the eggnog and Captain Morgan Dark Spiced Rum. Those that enjoy sparkling wines and Moscato will find a lot to enjoy with the Roscato.

Finally, my top pick this week is the Bernard Massard Rose (made mainly from Pinot Noir grapes). I’ve always had a fascination with sparkling roses made from Pinot Noir as it adds a lovely red-fruit character which mingles beautifully with floral notes (like rose petal). Fun fact, Pinot Noir is one of the principal grapes used to make Champagne and is often turned into high-quality sparkling wines outside of France. This specific wine is made in traditional method, aka the same method used to make Champagne (second fermentation in the bottle) which is an indicator of good quality. From the three, the Bernard Massard is the driest wine but also the most balanced which is why it ended up with a score of Very Good compared to the others.

Understanding which sparkling wine to choose at the liquor store can be overwhelming but a good tip is to have an idea of what sweetness level you are looking for before stepping foot in the store. For instance, if you were craving a sweeter wine, it would eliminate every bottle on the shelf that says “Brut”, or “Extra Brut”. This basically narrows down half of the shelf selection and will make your choice easier.

Another aspect to consider is your food selection. Are you serving hot foods? Does the food you are serving have any acidity in it (pickles, seafood with citrus) and also, how fatty and salty is the food? Choose the appropriate wine which will compliment these flavor components such as a Moscato for desserts (sweet matching sweet) or pickles matched with the Henkell Trocken (zippy and full of citrus to pair with salty and tangy flavors). If the food pairings don’t turn out, you could always just drink the wine too! Here are my wine picks of the week!

Roscato Sparkling Moscato: (Italy). Sweet sparkling white, pale lemon/green color with small, foamy bubbles. Intensely fruity peach, apple and citrus notes hit the nose from the first sniff followed by a hint of fruit blossoms. This wine has plenty of sugar, but the body is quite light with a fresh orchard’s worth of apples, orange/peach blossoms, pears and a touch of honey. Intensity and concentration of flavors are high with medium-plus acidity and the mid-palate is impactful (fruity and sweet). The finish is quick which helps keep the fruit from becoming heavy or overpowering and the mousse or activity of the bubbles is light and foamy, creating a creamy texture. There is an impressive balance and punch of flavors in the Roscato which makes it the perfect pairing partner with orange juice for a delicious mimosa! Good! $24, 7% ABV

Henkell Trocken Brut: (Germany). Dry sparkling white, pale lemon color with actively frothy, big bubbles. The nose is refreshingly crisp with mouthwatering citrus zest, freshly baked bread, butter, apples and toast. The flavors on the palate are simpler than the nose but the intensity is still great with flavors of biscuit, green apples, lemon and toast. The medium-body flavors are zesty and slightly savory at first with medium acidity but some bitterness creeps in near the end of the mid-palate. The bubbles are very frothy and aggressive while the medium-length finish displays more apple and citrus zest with a suggestion of toast, ending on a bitter note (citrus peel). This makes an excellent appetizer wine and pairs well with stuffed mushrooms, brie on crackers or bacon and green onion-topped potato skins. Good! $16, 11.5% ABV

Bernard Massard Brut Rose: (Luxembourg). Dry sparkling rose, medium salmon color with fine, small bubbles. The bouquet on the nose is delicate and light with rose petal, strawberry and potpourri. While the bubbles appear fine, they have a heavy impact on the palate with an enjoyable frothiness. Floral flavors of rose, raspberries and strawberries tickle the tastebuds with medium-plus intensity and respectable weight (medium-plus body). The intensity of flavors builds slightly with each sip as the wine breathes and warms to room temperature as medium-plus acidity keeps the palate fresh. The finish is long and floral with red berries and a hint of creamy cheese, ending the tasting on a high note. Pair with creamy mushroom risotto or Boursin cheese. Well-made sparkling rose with excellent balance and surprising intensity. Very good! $23 (Regular $35), 12.5% ABV            

Cheers and thanks for reading!