Here's a fun game. The next time you're in the company of a wine buff, toss out a few challenging in vino veritas one-liners. Something like “How's your Tsitska?” usually does the trick (the response should involve white wine grape varietals native to the Republic of Georgia, not an update on sister so-and-so). Wine has been made in the region for more than 7,000 years – longer than France and Italy – but we're only now getting a taste of their sparklers. The first to hit the U.S. are from Bagrationi, the reigning sparkling wine giant in the region. And just think how much fun it will be to wave a bottle or two in defiance the next time the Russians get a little too close to the Georgian border. Tipsy protest locations after the jump.
Of the Bagrationi wines now available in Los Angeles, the 1882 Classic Brut and Classic Extra Dry are the real bargains. “Honestly, we're serving [the Classic Brut] because it's a very good deal for the quality and it's a friendly sparkling for people who aren't big Champagne drinkers,” says Pourtal Wine Bar sommelier Rachel Bryan.
The Brut and Extra Dry are both made by the Charmat method (bubbled-up in steel tanks like Prosecco, rather than bottled-conditioned like Champagne). That makes them on the light side, both fizzy and flavor-wise, plus they come with a party-friendly price tag of about $14 a bottle. They're subtle enough to use in a cocktail (say, the ridiculously easy Ginger Kier Royale recipe below), yet still have enough heft by the glass to stand up to your neighbor's spam-noodle casserole. Well, we haven't held an official spam-pairing taste test. But do let us know how that goes.
The Classic Brut is sold by the bottle and glass at Pourtal Wine Bar. Mr. Marcel's Gourmet Market and All Corked Up carry the Classic Brut by the bottle; Mr. Marcel's also carries the Extra Dry. Both bottles retail for around $14, although expect to pay more at wine bars that also have a retail market on site.
Note: Domaine de Canton is widely available at well stocked liquor stores.
3 ounces dry sparkling wine, such as Bagrationi Classic Brut
1 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1 lemon twist
1. Place the lemon twist in the bottom of a champagne glass. Add the ginger liqueur and slowly top with the sparkling wine.