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Put some sparkle in your holidays
by the Irish Wine Gal

I love sparkling wines-they add a festive mood to whatever the occasion is-be it a job promotion, the successful completion of a cancer treatment or the holiday season, open a bottle of sparkling and liven up the party!

Sparkling wines are made in various ways and only the ones made in the Champagne region of France may be called Champagne. All others are referred to as sparkling.

The two most common ways of making sparkling wines are methode champenoise, and the Charmat method. The Charmat method (also known as the tank method) is very common as it is cheaper, faster and less expensive. The sparkling wines made this way are not commonly ones that will age well.

As for the method champenoise way the traditions are time honored and result in a better quality sparkling that can age for some time.

Following are some of my favorites that are both from California and France that won't break your budget.

St Hilliare Brut
From France comes this easy to drink and easy on your budget sparkling. It has a nice, light color and smooth taste. (Stateside $10.99)

Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvee Sparkling
The French first started with Champagne and the people who own Taittinger have brought it to America. They built an incredible chateau in the Carneros region of Napa that has wonderful views of the vineyards. Enjoy this Brut with its creamy, yeasty taste and lovely bubbles. (Hammer $25.99)

Roeder Estate Anderson Valley Brut
Another one from California that is owned by the Roederer family of France. This Brut is crisp and light and just lovely. (Vintage $21.99)

Louis Changarnier Blanc de Blanc
From France comes this 100% Chardonnay made in the methode champenoise style. The result is a creamy and rich sparkler that all will enjoy. (Private Reserve $10.99)

As for opening your sparkling bottle-make sure it is well chilled. After removing the foil and wire muzzle, place a napkin or cloth over the top, point the bottle away from people and hold it at a 45 degree angle.

The bottle should be very gently screwed off of the cork with air being allowed to enter. Pour the wine slowly at the 45 degree angle into slim glasses allowing for the bubbles to dissipate. Toast and enjoy!

Happy holidays and all the best for a vintage year!

The Irish Wine Gal

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