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FROM THE CELLAR What better way to celebrate the season than with sparkling wine

Being the season for sparklers, it’s appropriate one writes about sparkling wines.

A sparkling wine is the quintessential celebratory drink and aperitif — the loud ‘POP’ of the formerly wire-encaged cork flying off and the gushing wine thereafter has all the imagery of a climax one may want. This is why Champagne (a distinct type of sparkling wine) is so widely used in parties and anniversaries.

The number of sparkling wines made in India grows apace, and they are nowhere as expensive as one may think.

The first (started in 1986!) was the venerable Marquise de Pompadour (Rs. 535 in Bangalore before the price-rise) by Indage, who also brought out an Ivy Brut at a sub-Rs. 500 price and a sweeter (and still cheaper) ‘Joie’ — both the latter wines have fared poorly and are largely not available.

The Sula Brut (Rs. 630) was the second bottle-fermented sparkling wine — the company has innovated by bringing out both a 375 ml and a 1500 ml bottle pack – the latter, formerly priced at Rs. 1,350, is just great if you want to create an impression! Interestingly enough, Sula also has the Sula Seco (Rs. 400) and the sweet and lightly sparkling Dia (Rs. 235) — both of which are presumably made in-tank.

By now you’ve probably figured out that while all Champagnes are sparkling wines, not all sparkling wines are Champagne. Champagne can only be made in the Champagne district of France from three locally grown grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) — all others are dismissed as imitations (clever marketing, that).

The definitive Champagne is, of course, Moet-Chandon Brut Imperial (Rs. 4,100 earlier), the market leader worldwide, from the cellars of Moet Hennessy. Sparklers from other producers include Green Point Brut (Australia), the Bouvet Ladubay range (Loire Valley, France), Henkell and Deinhart (Germany), and the Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut (Spain). Sparkling wines or Champagnes are invariably dry, crisp, and refreshing and a great drink that you can have anytime, and with almost any type of food. If you have not already popped a bottle for Diwali, do so now — sparkling wines and sparklers are a perfect match.

ALOK CHANDRA

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