Last week Cellar Mouse, Mudpie, Cellar Roomie and I met to have our first sparkling battle of the holiday season. From the start, we found it difficult to pare down our options. Do we go Brut or Extra Dry (Translation: “not a sugar bomb” or “extra sweet”?) Champagne or Sparkling? (“French, like a kiss from a bad boyfriend,” or “Not-French. Not Even Close.”) Then there are all the varietals that can be used to make champagne: pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot blanc, among others. Spend enough time contemplating these choices, and the mind begins to fizz. Then you start grabbing the first bottle that stands out on the shelf. Hence, Rosé.
Also, I don’t know about you, but us here in the Drunk household are on a budget. That’s right, times are tough, and we (or, I should say, I, since Sober Dad has long been famously frugal) are tightening our belts. Sure, we just splurged on some awesome 90+ Cabernet. Now it’s back to the box until the next royalty check arrives (a drunk girl can dream, can’t she?). So our two bottles are both under $15 this week.
Sparkler #1: Gruet Rosé “Methode Champenoise” from Gruet Winery in Albuquerque, NM. This sparkling wine had a delicate pink color, a beautifully floral nose, and a delicate flavor profile evocative of mineral, melon and hibiscus. Several tasters were impressed with its “teeny-tiny” bubbles. Comments included: “Classy but boring;” “Fruity and makes me pucker;” “Subtle, like an affair with your boss;” and “I don’t have a lot to say, I just want to drink it.” This wine was the clear winner when paired with Cellar Mouse’s Napoleon Cheese (see photo.)
Sparkler #2: Ballatore Rosso, Red Spumante. If the Gruet Rosé was like a sophisticated, worldly dinner guest, then this sparkler is like the loudmouth friend your teenage daughter brings home. Depending on your mood, you might enjoy her brash sensibility, her colorful outfits (and language), or you might want to retire to your room and enjoy the intellectual companionship of an episode of The Biggest Loser. (Yes, I’ve got January’s diet on the brain. Just sayin’). Anyway, this one was bright pink, with big, fun bubbles and a much sweeter flavor than the Gruet. Comments included: “the strawberry shortcake of wine;” “like Barbie’s Dream House, outfitted with a stripper pole;” and “Much sweeter, like it was made of Kool-Aid.” This wine was the clear winner when paired with my chocolate-coconut brownies.
As you can see, we were pretty much split down the middle, with me and Cellar Roomie enjoying the Ballatore, and Mudpie and Cellar Mouse finishing off the Gruet. Objectively speaking, the Gruet is the better wine, but sometimes it’s more fun to go low-brow than high, at least for me. Which may turn out to be a good thing, budget-wise. Win-win!