Sparkling Wine with Tapas Tasting Notes

In December 2006 we attended a sparkling wine tasting held at Barcelona, a Spanish tapas-style restaurant in West Hartford, CT. For the first part of the evening, we did a walk-around tasting where we tasted sparkling wines and tasted tapas.

Champagne Tasting

Mionetto Prosecco

- $11.99
Prosecco is the name of a style of sparkling wine from Italy - and the grape it's made from is also called prosecco! The mionetto is light, gentle, with appley flavors that can be a bit tart.

Sergio Mionetto

- $19.99
Named after the winemaker, this is Mionetto's main wine. It's 90% prosecco along with bits of verdiso and bianchetta. Also fruity, this has a bit of nuttiness and almost buttery smoothness to it. Ironically, it's what friends of ours brought to our tasting the following night, too.

Roderer Estate Anderson Valley

- $20.99
We actually had this the next night, too. For our home tasting it was only $17.99, at Sam's Club. It has a light, citrus flavor, tending towards grapefruit. This is made from 100% estate fruit.

2002 Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc

- $32.99
Blanc de blanc means that the wine is made with 100% white grapes, 100% chardonnay. The grapes for this come from all over California, although over half are from the Napa Valley. Flavors of yeast and toast.

Gruet Brut Rose, New Mexico

- $15.99
We have friends of ours from New Mexico so we've had Gruet wines many times. You might think it's odd to grow grapes in New Mexico, but the French Champagne house Gruet knew they'd spotted a great area when they were visiting New Mexico back in the early 1980s. They don't even need pesticides! It's got fruity flavors of peach, cherry and berry, and a lovely berry-red color.

Barcelona Interior
The restaurant brought in this functional, large, red barn door for atmosphere

What made this part of the tasting a bit challenging is that the tapas restaurant served *spicy* tapas with these sparklers. I'm all for having food with a bit of salt - say, seafood - with sparkling wine. I have sparkling wines with sushi all the time, and with salads and chicken. But Chapagne and sparkling wines are generally light flavors. They have gentle flavors of berry, toast, biscuit, etc. If you have too much spice in your mouth, you just can't taste any of those flavors any more, so you could be drinking any bubbly water with your food.

So I found that the very first dish - a very spicy empanada with thick meat filling - completely overpowered the sparkling wines. It took a lot of water drinking before I could again taste what the sparkling wine was offering. Also, the sparkling wines were all served rather warm. When you serve any wine warm, you taste mostly the alcohol, and this overpowers the flavors in the wine. So between the alcoholy flavors of the wine and the high spice levels of the food, it made this tasting a challenge. The spicy porcini chicken took a great pairing - chicken - and turned it into a palate burner.

By the time we got to a dish that actually would have been great - raw tuna sashimi pieces on potato chips - there had already been too much spice passed around. Never mind that in a situation where you're standing, holding a glass of Champagne and have no plate, to give you raw bits of tuna on a crumbly, too-large-for-one-bite-but-fragmenting-immediately potato chip seemed unwise :)

I have a ton of recommendations on my other pages on what to serve with Champagne. We drink Champagne all year long and have tried all sorts of combinations. The key is really NOT to serve hot-spicy food :) Not if you want to be able to taste the Champagne, in any case!

Champagne Reviews and Tasting Notes

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.