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Holiday time means it?s time to break open a bottle the bubbly


What sparkles in the night like the glitter of a glistening Christmas tree in the dimmed corner light of a good holiday party? What fizzles and jumps from the cold of your glass while carols beckon celebration from the hall? What bubbles and has the fruit of berries and pear, green apple and winter citrus fruits? On the table it is champagne ? and/or, sparkling wine. It is the celebration and the love of so many people at once in so many homes around the world.

More often than not, these bubbly concoctions are made from more grapes than just chardonnay. Say there be pinot noir, vouvray, viura in the vineyard, these sparkling productions are grown all over the planet and they are grown and made well. Prosecco in Italy, cava in Spain, Champagne in France, and sparkling in the United States. This delightful and festive glass of wine makes its stand as the taste of both celebration and success each holiday season and beyond.

Most commonly found bubbling in our holiday glasses, however, are the varietals, chardonnay and pinot noir with, sometimes, the lesser-known pinot meunier.

Labeled blanc de blanc, which are the most delicate and lightest in color, sparkling wine is made from chardonnay. Labeled blanc de noirs, sparkling wine is made from pinot noir or pinot meunier. Ros?sparkling wines, which can be beautiful, add still red wines for their color or a process of maceration with the skin of red grapes. Again, all of these can be found all over the globe.

The level of sweetness of many of the best champagnes or sparkling wines is rated and labeled according to it to its level of sweetness. For what you prefer, you can choose from brut (bone-dry to almost dry ? less than 1.5 percent sugar), extra sec or extra dry (slightly sweeter ? 1.2 to 2 percent sugar), sec (medium sweet ? 1.7-3.5 percent sugar, demi-sec (sweet ? 3.3-5 percent sugar), and doux (very sweet ? 5 percent sugar).

Once you have found a sparkling wine that suits your preference, you can then think about what you would like to serve it with for your party or simply on a holiday night after work. Or, you can just sip it by itself. Some go wonderfully with cheese, others with the salt of french fries. Most all go with fresh sliced fruit. Any way you have it, it brings a big smile to your face with every first sip.

Madame Bollinger once said, ?I drink it when I?m happy. I drink it when I?m sad. I drink it when with company, I drink it when I?m alone. I drink it when I?m hungry, I drink it when I?m not. Otherwise, I don?t drink it ? unless, of course, I am thirsty.? ? and thirsty we shall be this holiday season. So, let us toast for it is the time of year for bubbles and cheer!

If you are interested in learning more about these wonderful wines of sparkle, the Vine and Barrel Wine Shop on Kentucky Street will be hosting its second annual Holiday Champagne/ Sparkling Wine Tasting from 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 15. Here, you can taste the differences between cava and prosecco, champagne and sparkling from the United States. Special guests include Bollinger, Pierre Morlet, Piper-Heidsieck and many others. Call 765-1112 for more information.

(Jason Jenkins is the owner of Vine and Barrel, a wine shop at 143 Kentucky St. They offer Wednesday night wine education classes from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday tastings from 4 to 7 p.m. He can be contacted at 765-1112. The Web site is www.vineandbar rel.com)