Air heads – Grape Crush

Champagnes and sparkling wines are essential to celebrations, but they remain underrated when it comes to food pairings. Before you relegate these wines solely to the New Year’s toast, consider integrating them into this month’s culinary lineup. Their range is hard to beat.

As aperitifs, Champagnes and sparkling wines set up the taste buds perfectly, and they work well with many hors d’oeuvres. Their effervescence and balanced profile help them slice through all sorts of dishes, especially those that are high in fat, like crabmeat au gratin or cream-sauced fish or pasta. They also measure up beautifully to ethnic or spicy foods. Sushi, Southeast Asian cuisine and jambalaya are all unexpected soul mates to Champagnes and sparkling wines when given the chance.

The problem is perception. Champagne is regarded as a celebration wine that usually sports a hefty price tag. But sparkling wines, which are made in the fashion of Champagne outside of the Champagne region of France, are often affordable and good. Here are three.


Brut Rosé • Cava

Spain • $11

Produced from the Trepat grape, this sparkling rosé is fresh and lively and one to keep buying this spring. It’s a winning aperitif with cherry and raspberry notes that also make it a super mate for ceviche, wood-fired pizza or barbecued pork.


Brut Etoile

France • $12

This well-balanced brut from France has notes of apple and a clean finish. It’s especially appealing as a salad course wine witch Sensation salad working well, as well as a classic blue cheese wedge or baby greens with mustard-based vinaigrette.

Domaine Saint-Vincent


New Mexico, USA • $14

This wine’s golden hue signals a little more heft than the Monmousseau, and indeed, it presents musty earthiness along with stone fruit. The finish is clean. Pair it with tuna tartare, salmon with dill cream sauce and capers or butterscotch bread pudding.