Tuesday, December 27, 2011
My mother has stated for years that she no longer wishes to receive gifts around the holidays. I don’t particularly view my mother as a Scrooge-like individual. For the most part she is a happy person with a pleasant disposition to her family and friends. However, lately she has been rather adamant on a yearly basis about her disdain for receiving gifts, especially from her immediate family members. After chatting with Mom about this, I eventually realized that it was years of accumulating unwanted trinkets and “knick knacks” that eventually led her to deny holiday gifts. Although this year I had fully planned to abide by my lovely mother’s wishes, I decided eventually that I should, at the very least, get her SOMETHING. I reckoned this something should be an item that she will enjoy, but that won’t find itself cluttering up our family home after a few weeks time. In the end, I decided that a nice(r) bottle of Champagne should do the trick. Much to my joy, Mom adored her gift.
One of the primary reasons why Mom enjoyed her gift was because it was something she could share and enjoy with me. She of course knows about my passion for wine, and appears to genuinely enjoy sharing a bottle with me. Unfortunately, my mother’s traditional drink of choice, Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc (a 1.5 litre, to be precise), is not necessarily my cup-o-tea. This fact made this year’s gift particularly lovely. After properly chilling down Mom’s gift, I popped it open (with as little sound possible in preparation for my upcoming Certified Sommelier examination) and poured it into two Champagne flutes. Mom and I toasted with our respective glasses, and took the first glorious sip. The wine was deliciously complex and refreshing, and appeared to be just what the doctor ordered, especially for Mom. For me, however, there was something… off. Much to Mom’s dismay, I proceeded to pour the contents of my flute into a standard white wine glass. “What are you doing?” Mom said with a sense of urgency. “Eh, I like my sparkling wines a bit more out of a standard glass” I replied. It’s true. I have come to prefer my sparkling wines (Champagne included) out of typical wine glasses. Yes, I fully acknowledge the reasons for pouring bubbles exclusively in flutes, but I must declare, here and now, that such a “pairing” just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
Of course, there are some differences in taste that go along with such a change in consumption vessel. My experiences have taught me that drinking Champagne in a white wine glass tends to diminish bubbles at a much more rapid pace, and as a result, tends to tone down a wine’s autolytic character (the bready, yeasty, buscuity tastes that come across in many higher quality Champagnes). This may be one of the reasons why so many people are so strict about the flute being the ideal (if not to exclusive) glassware for serving sparkling wine. It appears to me that we have come to view these autolytic flavors as being directly correlative of quality, particularly in Champagne. I, However, am not convinced that such a thing should be the case. In truth, I find many Crémants (wines produced outside of Champagne but still made in the “traditional” method) to be just as, if not more enjoyable than many Champagne wines I’ve tasted. It could just be that autolysis is not a flavor profile that “does it” for me. In any case, the effect that a traditional wine glass has on champagne is something that appeals to me.
In addition to not being an extreme proponent of autolytic flavors in sparking wine, I am also what many refer to as an “acid head.” I make no attempts to suggest any sort of drug use on my part. I use this title more as a way to describe my overwhelming attraction to acidity in the wines I drink. I have come to appreciate mouthwatering acidity in sparkling wine a bit more than an overtly creamy mousse or mouthfeel. This could be why I am one of the only persons I know who gets excited by the prospect of decanting a sparkling wine. A few less bubbles and higher acid content is just something that I dig.
I understand that there may be some individuals who are made upset by my sparkling wine preferences. I’m more than willing to have a discussion with them about it, but I can almost guarantee that I will begin by uttering something along the lines of “sorry, I can’t help what I like.” Perhaps this means I should have a bit more understanding for my mother when she insists on putting ice cubes in her wine…