Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sparkling Wine Comes to Greece

We’ve all had our share of sparkling wine during toasts at weddings, at Valentines Day dinner, at the countdown of New Year’s Eve, and probably offered at a social gathering. But how often do we order a glass or a bottle of sparkling wine as our choice of beverage? Recently, sparkling wine sales have been steadily increasing with creative marketing and trend setting approaches amongst various demographics. This refreshing and effervescent delight has been in production for centuries dating back to the 1600s when wine that was being shipped, accidentally went through a secondary fermentation creating a bubbly effect. This pleasant accident caught on quickly and became popular instantly.

This phenomenon captured the interest of two monks, Dom Perignon and Frere Jean Oudart who were from the region of Champagne, France. They were the first to discover a methodical way of capturing the bubbles and creating quality and handcrafted sparkling wine. The secret of creating sparkling wine is to add the right amount of sugar and yeast to create carbon dioxide that results into tiny bubbles while the wine is fermenting in the bottle. The news spread fast within the region of Champagne about sparkling wine that its popularity wiped out the production of non-bubbly wines. The region of Champagne opened the doors to sparkling wine production throughout Europe and eventually around the world. Keep in mind that Champagne, is sparkling wine produced within the region of France. Any production outside of this region can only be labeled as sparkling wine or the local term. For example, sparkling wine from Spain is called Cava and from Italy is called Prosecco or Spumante.

The success of sparkling wines has also made its way to Greece. According to wine enthusiasts and reputable critics, some of the best sparklers are produced from two of Greece’s natives grapes, Athiri and Moschofilero. The variety Athiri is commonly used in the production of blended wines in Greece, but it is the ideal grape for producing an aromatic and refreshing sparkler. One area that is famed for its Athiri grapes is the island of Rhodes. The island’s unique climate and soft breezes allow the Athiri grape to reach its distinct maturity needed to give its pleasant qualities. Aside from becoming the most popular white grape variety in Greece, Moschofilero makes a great sparkling wine. Sparklers produced from Moschofilero give off immense floral aromas with lemony and citrus flavors. What a great addition to a beautiful hot summer day in Greece.

Restaurants have already begun to take advantage of the sparkling wine trend. You should begin to see a larger variety of sparkling wine offerings, especially by the glass. A great way to start any dining experience is actually with a glass of sparkling wine that actually stimulates a healthy appetite. It is also a great pairing with light foods such as lightly grilled vegetables and seafood. Wine shops have also expanded their sparkling wine sections with very creative placements to create interest amongst consumers.

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