It’s the time of year to pop the cork (ok – don’t pop it, uncork the bottle) on your sparkling wine, Prosecco or Champagne and ring in the start of another year.
But so many of us start wandering down that grocery store aisle attempting to pick out something to please our palate without understanding what we’re trying to find.
Seattle Kitchen’s Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau welcomed Brian Maletis, the owner of Fat Cork, a grower to bottle Champagne shop in lower Queen Anne, to get some tips on how to select the right bottle.
First, his store specializes in Champagne, which is bubbly that comes from the Champagne region of France, just outside Paris. There are other types of sparkling wines, with different names from different regions, like Prosecco, Lambruso, or if you’re in the United States – sparkling wine is the name that will suffice.
Maletis says if you prefer a drier bubbly, look for a Champagne labeled “Brut.” Not dry enough? While there are varying degrees of brut, if you’re shopping a store like Maletis,’ you could even find an “Extra Brut.”
If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, look for the demi-sec or sec category. “Those are Champagnes that have more sugar added,” says Maletis.
In Champagne, you will find three types of grapes.
Maletis recommends “blanc de blanc,” which means the Champagne only contains chardonnay grapes, for a palate that prefers an elegant profile with more finesse.
The other two are red grapes – the pinot noir grape, and its more obscure cousin, the pinot meunier grape. The pinot noir grape offers more structure to the flavor and a tannic bite, says Maletis. The meunier adds a fruit component.
Maletis says that while you can get the blanc de blanc, most Champagnes combine the three types of grapes.
If you’re looking to pick up a bottle of something special, Fat Cork specializes in “grower Champagnes” or Champagnes made by the same people who grow and farm the grapes.