This time of year, even though Rosh Hashanah is long past, with many of us taking a little time off work, it’s easy to get into the celebratory spirit. Since our wedding anniversary is this time of year, my husband and I try to find time to celebrate by opening a special bottle of bubbly.
In the last year or two, the kosher marketplace has gotten more and more exciting in terms of a couple of things: first, how many good to great sparkling wines are available and, two, in many cases, how affordable and accessible they have become.
For about $10 (and I’ve written about this wine before), you can enjoy a lovely sparkling wine and even buy a bunch of bottles to share with friends. The Contessa Annalisa White Lambrusco is a crowd-pleasing, semi-dry, sparkling Italian wine with small bubbles, with little to no bitterness. It’s a great stepping-stone wine for people who might be ready to graduate from Bartenura Moscato and try something else. It’s not as sweet as the blue bottle, but it’s way more bubbly, and it looks great in a champagne flute. Enjoy this with smoked fish, goat cheese, crackers or other nibbles. My tasting team has repeatedly commented on how well this wine goes with the blueberry-encrusted goat cheese from Costco. It’s O-U, branded by Kirkland, and it comes in packages of two.
If you are up to spending just a bit more, approximately $15, try the Contessa Annalisa Prosecco, another Italian wine that is simply made for celebrations. Prosecco is generally very light tasting and goes down easy. It is definitely a “before dinner drink,” best on its own. Made of 100 percent prosecco grapes, this is a dry wine, made using the Charmat method, which is traditional for Italian sparkling wines. The general difference from the Champagne method is the fermentation occurs in the steel vats before being placed in the bottle, and it lends itself to a more fruity flavor with a very light nose and less acid than those bottled traditionally.
Two particularly enjoyable wines, if you are up to trying something a little more pricey (but worth it!), are Golan Heights Winery’s Yarden Blanc de Blancs 2009 ($34) and Yarden Rosé 2011 ($39). These are brut sparkling wines, bottled in the traditional Champagne style. The Blanc de Blancs is made of 100 percent chardonnay, while the rosé is made from 72 percent chardonnay and 28 percent pinot noir. Both were aged at least five years in the bottle. What’s amazing about both these wines are their sweet, floral nose and their dry, effervescent delightfulness. Both of these wines have round, large bubbles and bracing acid. These are wines made for a special occasion and won’t disappoint. While most Israeli whites have not been made to last, these wines have just gotten better as they have aged in the bottle, and they are drinking great now and will continue for at least two more years, if you want to buy a few bottles for a special occasion or two down the line.
By Elizabeth Kratz