The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Sparkling Wines: Now More Than Ever

Posted on | December 31, 2009 | Written by Tom Powers | 1 Comment


I’ve noticed over the last year that people are drinking less sparkling wine that’s outstanding, especially Champagne. I have read that this decreased consumption is because people are “trading down,” which is to say that they’re drinking cheaper stuff. I’ve also heard that it’s not just cost that’s making people reach for the cheap stuff—people feel guilty celebrating while so many others are suffering. They don’t want to be seen as insensitive. I have strong feelings about this phenomenon, and they boil down to the belief that these choices, while understandable, are misguided.

At IWM we celebrate life, and we celebrate the opportunity to share our passion with people who are not only our clients but who also become part of our extended families. Before we begin many meals, we delicately open a bottle of sparkling wine. Beyond the grandeur in the glass, a sparkler is the perfect beverage to gently awaken the palate and to create a sense of bonhomie—plus, sparkling wines also have the unusual ability to be paired with a wide variety of culinary creations.  For all of its decadent reputation, sparkling wine—whether Prosecco, Champagne, Cava, Puro or any other of the myriad varieties—is more or less a perfect libation.

While I certainly understand fiscal responsibility, I’m skeptical that someone’s Champagne consumption is the reason for that person’s financial demise.  Think of this. One in ten Americans will drink a bottle of Champagne in a year—and that statistic comes from 2006, before our consumption plummeted. Even if someone needs to live within a tidy budget, I feel compelled to argue that when we are fortunate to break bread with people we love, with people we admire, and with people we respect, we need to bear in mind that it’s important to honor those occasions. It’s just not the time to “trade down.” A bottle of Veuve may be $40, but the experience is priceless.

It comes as no surprise, then, that in this new year, I sincerely recommend that we all drink more sparkling wines with our colleagues, friends and loved ones.  My list of sparkling wines to enjoy would begin with Prestige Cuvees. I love the elegance of Salon, the grandeur of Krug, and the harmony of Pol Roger, Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill. I would urge my friends to drink deeply of Rose; Billecart Salmon Rose would begin the list, but Roger Coulon Rose should also be enjoyed, early and often. Looking to areas outside of France, I love Movia’s Puro Rose, and Bruno Giacosa makes a lovely Spumante Brut from 100% Pinot Noir. Finally, Elio Perrone’s Moscatos are also as elegant as any sparkling wine made anywhere in the world.

It’s a new year, and an opportunity to make changes. Sure, keep your bank balance in the black, but remember that life is short, time is fleeting, and you need to eat, drink and be merry.


One Response to “Sparkling Wines: Now More Than Ever”

  1. Christy Canterbury
    December 31st, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

    I agree! I’m ringing in the new year with Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Speciale Les Chetillons 2000, André Clouet Silver Brut Nature Grande Reserve NV, and a modest, yet utterly delicious Cremant de Bourgogne NV from Parigot & Richard. Then, over the weekend, I will surely open the Jose Dhondt Blanc de Blancs Mes Vieilles Vignes 2004 that Frank and Sarah were waxing rhapsodic over this morning. Thanks for the tip, you two!

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