I have long been a sparkling wine lover. When everybody else is having a glass of still wine at the dinner table, give me a glass of bubbles and I'm happy. Last year, on the Sunday after the WineMaker Magazine Conference in Monterey, California was over and everyone was heading home, I jumped in a car with my sister and headed to Big Sur for some R&R. First stop: Nepenthe for a glass of sparkling wine out in the sun on the outdoor patio dramatically overlooking the Pacific. As the waitress put the glass down on my table a customer at a nearby table remarked, "it's always a good time for Champagne, right?" To which I replied, "absolutely."
(A photo of me "helping out" with the sparkling wines at the 2013 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition.)
One of the perks of being a magazine editor is that you get to assign stories about subjects you personally want to know more about — as long as it falls in the realm of interest for the magazine readership of course! When else can you bend the ear of an expert to tell you all that you need to know on a subject and not feel like you're being a bother? So I convinced Daniel Pambianchi, sparkling wine maker and enthusiast, to write about the various sparkling wines of the world in his December 2013-January 2014 feature story for WineMaker.
Daniel confirmed some of my sparkling wine suspicions, including that traditional sparkling winemaking using méthode champenoise is a challenge, and is probably why a lot of home winemakers — at least the faint of heart like myself — don't often try it. Daniel says, "Making sparkling wine at home using the traditional method involves a lot of work, though it is not impossible. The biggest challenge is not in the process but rather in sourcing low-Brix, high-acidity grapes."...