Thursday, December 29, 2011

Psychowine: Bubbles -- Naughty, Nice, or both?

This is the first post in my new Psychowine series, wherein I'll be looking at the psychological aspects of what and where we drink. I encourage feedback, either below in the comments or through Twitter at @RandomOenophile.

No, this isn't one we tried recently. I just love this picture.

Remember when we were kids, and we'd tell jokes that we knew were supposed to be dirty, but we didn't know why? There was a series of such jokes about a survey taker who would go door-to-door and ask people in the neighborhood questions. In one, he found that the men of the neighborhood liked to "take baths with bubbles." The punchline was that the last door was opened by a beautiful blonde who introduced herself, "Hi, I'm Bubbles!"

I love bubbles, but not the slutty neighbor kind. A glass of sparkling wine has become my favorite pre-dinner drink when we go out to eat because it's tasty on its own but also pairs beautifully with any food. It's superior to a Cosmo because it's not going to raise my blood-alcohol content to the point that anything I drink after it will finish me. No, I don't have the "champagne goes to my head" syndrome.

Just like the Bubbles joke, there's something naughty about sparkling wine. That it's usually saved for celebrations lends it a decadent quality and sense of, "how dare you drink this without cause?" Its association with sexual symbolism, perhaps because bubbles do go to some women's heads (and some men's as well…and we'll leave it at that) also lends it an air of mystery. This impression is reinforced by a popular myth that the saucer-like glasses called coupes were modeled after a famous French queen's or royal mistress' breasts. Sadly, ruins the fun and says the tales aren't true.

So, with that in mind, here are some bubblies that we tried recently at a JavaMonkey wine tasting as well as one we sampled. Perhaps you can find something to get you warmed up for your New Year's Eve celebration.

Lois de Grenelle Platine Brut, NV (Loire Valley, France): 85% Chenin Blanc, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Cabernet Franc
I was apparently feeling quite literal with this one. My first comment: "It's bubbly." Beyond that, it's tart and tropical.
Rating: Good

François Montand Brut Rosé, NV (Côtes du Jura, France): 100% Grenache
Smoother and with more stone fruit. This one had nice little bubbles.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2008 Gramona Cran Cuvee Cava (Penedès, Spain): Xarelo, Macabeo, & Chardonnay
The longest age Cava in the world, this one had a nice bready, yeasty quality that makes it smooth and yummy.
Rating: VG to Excellent

Zèfiro Prosecco, NV (Veneto, Italy):
A beautifully light and fruity Prosecco.
Rating: Very Good

2009 Kila Cava (Penedès, Spain): 35% Macabejo, 40% Xarelo, and 25% Parellada
A little heavier and with less fruit, but not quite as well-balanced as the previous Cava. Yes, my notes on this one are minimal.
Rating: Good

2010 Cleto Chiarli e Figli "Premium" Lambrusco (Emilia Romagna, Italy):
Yep, it's a dark red sparkling Lambrusco. I found the fruit itself to be a bit harsh, and it was incredibly buttery. Good as a novelty wine, but if I want a sparkling red, I'm probably going for a Shiraz.
Rating: OK

I accepted a sample of Yellow Tail Bubbles White Sparkling Wine because I was curious to see how the Australian mega-winery would do bubbles. They claim their closure, the "Zork" would keep it bubbly even after opening. The wine itself is lightly sweet and fruity but lacking the acidity that would make it great with food. It finishes up with a hint of vanilla. We drank half on Sunday and "zorked" it with the intention of finishing it on Monday. We forgot until last night (Wednesday) and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was still as bubbly as it was on Sunday afternoon. This would be a good wine for anyone who wants a decent sparkling under $10, those who are trying to transition to less sweet wines from the Asti Spumante world, or someone who wants something that would go well in mimosas or other sparkling wine-based cocktails.

So there you have it! I hope this has given y'all some ideas for what to uncork, or un-zork, on New Year's Eve or any time you want to feel just a little decadent. To feel really naughty, consider putting on some soft music, lighting a few candles, and taking a bath with bubbles…in a glass.

Disclaimer: We received the Yellow Tail Bubbles as a sample. This did not affect my review.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Great post! Here are a couple of other suggestions:

Saint Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux 2008 - French sparkler (but not Champagne) in the low $10s

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, a Spanish sparkler at about $20 (or less)

Or you could just drink Belgian beer as an alternative bubbly...