So, the holidays are here. Love them? Hate them? What is your story? I, myself, am a strictly Thanksgiving gal. The rest of them make up what I call a Holidaze. Parties blur together, even the ugly sweater ones. People look crazed, hopping from event to event. At no time of the year am I so conscious of being alone as I am at this time. Not having family in the States can be difficult. What makes Holidaze more tolerable is the amount of sparkling wine consumed. They don’t call it “sparkling” for nothing, you know. The pop of the bottle of bubbly is one of my favorite happy sounds in the whole wide world. No matter how you look at it, sparkling wine is fun and sexy (see my earlier article about L. Mawby sparkling wine from Michigan on SEX with Friends!).
So, imagine my surprise when I was invited to Pops for Champagne to taste sparkling wines made in Illinois. Believe me, I had my reservations. I wrestled with the decision to go or not to go for a while. I am a locavore, everyone knows that. But sparkling wine? From Illinois? REALLY?!?! Well, what have I got to lose? I recruited some champagne-loving girlfriends and one pretty remarkable guy to come with me. We tasted these sparkling wines made in Illinois.
We fell in love. Quite honestly and completely unexpectedly.
With the five of us there, we each had our favorite out of the spectacular Illinois Sparkling Co. line-up. Here it is, according to official tasting notes:
Youthful and fun, the Brut is the jack of all trades. It’s easy to drink and refreshing, can tame the heat of spicy foods, and can celebrate an evening with friends with the best of them.
Grape Varietals: St. Pepin & Seyval Blanc
Food Pairing: Seafood, jambalaya, pecan pie
Music Pairing: Any collaboration with Ludacris
Heirloom (not available anywhere other than Pops for Champagne and the tasting room at the winery) is deep in character – earthy, with lots of dark berry mixed with biscuit notes. It has a dry, tannin feel with a rustic finish.
Grape Varietal: Marechal Foch
Style: Brut Rose
Food Pairing: Hearty pasta, beef tenderloin, bacon
Music Pairing: Some good, old-fashioned bluegrass
Franken’s (MY favorite, YUM!) is the ode to the French-hybrid grapes that make up the wines, fondly known as “frankenthieves”. Hints of raspberries and a crisp acidity make this brut wine a great pairing for big dinners. Here’s to life’s little oddballs!
Grape Varietal: Chambourcin
Food Pairing: Appetizers, roast chicken or turkey, chocolate
Music Pairing: “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson
Stereo exemplifies harmony in a sparkling wine. Fruit and honey characters dance through a bass line of aged yeast character. Sip it with food – at the bar or on your back patio.
Grape Varietals: St. Pepin/Golden Muscat
Food Pairing: Thai curry, tapenades, salads, cheesecake
Music Pairing: Anything on vinyl record or mix tape
Don’t be mistaken, just because Dollface flirts with you from the glass, doesn’t mean it’s all fruit and fluff. Like any good socialite, Dollface can handle any situation from a multi-course dinner with friends to a quiet night by the fireplace.
Grape Varietal: Frontenac
Style: Demi-Sec Rose
Food Pairing: BBQ ribs, garlic chicken, s’mores
Music Pairing: “Cracklin’ Rose” by Neil Diamond
So, there you have it. In fact, this holiday season, I have declared my house the House of Illinois Bubbly – the House of Franken’s – to be precise. I am willing to bet there is one you will love as well. Try one or try them all, it doesn’t matter. I say: Cheers to Illinois Sparkling Co. for its delicious products! Happy Holidaze!
My name is Tatiana or call me Gourmet Rambler. I love food too much to be skinny. I am too loud, too sarcastic, tell too many inappropriate jokes and watch too much reality TV. I am not dainty or graceful unless I am cooking AND eating! Hungry? Want more? Follow me on twitter at Gourmet Rambler.