Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sparkling Wines for the Season: Bin 201

Yesterday was one of those Saturdays which are common during the holiday season characterized by the the word--busy. There was the obligatory shopping for holiday gifts with its associated too-ing and fro-ing. But there was a nice timeout during the middle of the afternoon to sample and enjoy sparkling wines from around the world.
Bin 201 Sparkling Wine Selection

What a great respite from the insanity. We attended a tasting and class on Sparkling Wines sponsored by Bin 201 in Annapolis Town Center.

The course was called Binology 103: Sparkling Wines, and featured wines from France, Italy, Spain, and Oregon. Oregon? Yup. They make sparkling wines, too. There is also a good sparkling wine maker in New Mexico that I enjoy but whose offerings were not included in the course. The course reviewed the history of modern sparkling wines,  how they developed, the main ways that they are created, and highlighted the more important regions where they are produced.

Here is probably the most important thing I relearned: Champagne is a region (in France) not a type of wine. Champagne is also a process for making, in my opinion, the best sparkling wine. Hence the confusion. Many great sparkling wines are made using the champagne method.  Important safety tip--not all French sparkling wines are Champagne!

The drinking, sampling, is always the best part of the courses. These wines all drank very well with generally very fine bubbles and refined flavors. The differences were subtle--even between the rose and the whites. But the finest of the wines were very good--and I confess a couple of bottles made their way home in expectation of Christmas and New Years Eve celebrations.

I heartily recommend the courses at Bin 201 as a way to increase wine knowledge and develop a deeper appreciation for wine. More importantly, I am looking forward to enjoying these wines in just a few short weeks.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD