Serious Grape: How to Preserve a Glass of Sparkling Wine
On Fridays, Deb Harkness of Good Wine Under $20 drops by with Serious Grape. This week, how to preserve a bottle of bubbly.
If you open my fridge and there isn't a half-empty bottle of wine in it, then it's a sure sign I'm out of the country.
Most often, the half-empty bottle contains sparkling wine. When I come home after work, I love a chilled glass of bubbles while I'm making dinner. I open a bottle and then I drink one perfect glass a night over the next five nights.
Since I'm the only one who drinks in my house, a normal-sized bottle of bubbly lasts quite a while. Though I know a lot of people who would never, ever consider opening a bottle of wine just for themselves for fear it will go "bad" before they drink it up, this has never struck me as a good plan.
And sparkling wine, with its love of cold temperatures, is one of the easiest wines to drink one glass at a time.
To keep your sparkling wine fresh, what you need is a gizmo called a champagne stopper, available at almost any large supermarket, wine store, or housewares store for less than $5. It has wings that swing down and clamp around the neck of the bottle, sealing the gasket in place and keeping the bubbles in the bottle where they belong. Every time you lift the wings, some of the gas from the bubbles escapes. While my glass of wine on the fifth day isn't quite as effervescent as the first, it's still bubbly.
You may discover that very fine vintage Champagne is not something you want to leave in the fridge for a week because older fine wines can be slightly delicate, but that's not usually what I'm drinking. Instead, I gravitate towards bubblies like the NV Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rosado pictured here.
Cava, like other inexpensive European bubblies including prosecco and French crémants, have abundant bubbles and stay fresh-tasting when tightly stoppered. This sparkling wine was the color of diluted cranberry or pomegranate juice, and had faint aromas of rose petals and chalk accented by a bit of tart cranberry. The wine had slightly sour cranberry flavors, but it left a clean yeasty taste in the mouth and remained bubbly for five full days. When it first came out of the fridge, the wine's chalkiness was accentuated, and as it warmed gently in the glass I tasted more cranberry then raspberry flavors.
My recommendation: pour yourself a glass, listen to your voice messages, sift through the mail, then sit down with your Cava and enjoy. It will pair beautifully with a handful of Marcona almonds or cashews, or a piece of cheese and some crackers, or some olives. And of course the ultimate food pairing for any dry sparkling wine is potato chips.
So don't let the fact that it may take a few days to get through a bottle of bubbly keep you from opening one and sipping it throughout the week. And what's true of sparkling wine is true of still wines, too: they stay fresh longer than you might think. You just need a different gizmo for the best results. My friends at the wine blog Rational Denial just experimented with two ways to preserve wine: check out the results of their experiment here.
I received the NV Seguras Viudas Cava Brut Rosado as a sample. You can probably find it near you for between $6 and $13.