If we had to choose one beverage to sip on forever, we have to admit, it would probably definitely be bubbly. But, up and until now, we kind of drank it without really thinking too much about the sparkling beverage.
That was until a recent trek with Rebecca Minkoff and Chandon (to celebrate her her role as the newly appointed #ChandonSquad Brand Ambassador) to Chandon’s Napa winery where we met the brand’s head winemaker Pauline Lhote and got schooled on everything from the differences in sparkling wine (we also learned that you can only call it Champagne if it’s from that region in France!) and Lhtoe’s top five tips for spreading her sparkling wine know-how. Read our Q&A with the pro below. Bottom’s up!
What is the biggest misconception people have about sparkling wine?
"The biggest misconception people have about sparkling wine is that it is hard to pair with food and only appropriate for special occasions. It is actually quite the contrary! At Chandon, our wines are carefully blended to be fun and approachable; perfect for pairing with your favorite everyday foods, even that after work take-out. Some of my favorite parings include Sushi with Chandon Rosé, Pad Thai with Chandon Sweet Star to offset the spiciness or Chandon Brut with richer cuisine."
What are your top five tips for people wanting to learn more about sparkling wine and figuring out which is for them?
"Understand the basics. Knowing just enough about the winemaking process from grape to bottle is a key element in understanding and recognizing some of the tasting notes you will smell or taste. Go with Methode Traditionnelle which is the same method used in Champagne. This is the highest quality method and also the one we use at Chandon."
"Go in with an open mind. It’s easy to think that you prefer one thing over the other, but let your palate guide you. You may be surprised!"
"There are no wrong pairings! The great thing about wine is that everyone pulls different tasting notes from each and every wine. There is no wrong answer, you taste what you taste and like what you like."
"Sparkling wine is not only for special occasions, you can pop a cork anytime! It’s incredibly food friendly and has a bright acidity that pairs with numerous items, just experiment!"
"Most of all, have fun with it!"
Explain the main differences between the different types of sparkling wine.
"The easiest way to explain the main differences between the different types of sparkling is comparing is by comparing them on a scale from dry to sweet. To be dry, a sparkling wine have less amounts of sweetness – typically labeled as Brut. In the middle of the range, you will find Rosé which is still light and dry but has hints of fruit which eludes to sweetness. To be considered sweet, sparkling wine generally has 12 more grams of sugar than a very dry sparkling wine."
What's your go-to sparkling wine cocktail?
"This is a tough one because I have so many favorites. I’d have to say my go-to is the Chandon Rosé with strawberry, lime juice and basil. Or, if I’m really in a hurry, I’ll make a quick simple-serve cocktail with Chandon Sweet Star. All you have to do is add ice and your favorite garnish (I love it with cucumber)."