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Wine Review: Sparkling wines right at home for Thanksgiving

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What once was buying for Thanksgiving, has become shopping for Thanksgiving. The cost of everything from toothpicks to the big bird itself has increased, so shopping to find the best prices is currently the rule. One area where there has seen little change in prices are sparkling wines.

Champagne, the queen of sparkling wines, is elegant, beautiful and usually quite expensive.

There are, however, worthy alternatives: Italian prosecco and Spanish cava. Neither of these wines are imitations of champagne, but rather another version of the same theme.

Most often, they are produced by processes that differ from the very labor intensive méthode champenoise, which requires fermentation in the bottle and a minimum of one year aging in chalk caves. Each of these wines have their own individual and nationalistic qualities and all can turn an ordinary dinner into a sumptuous feast.

Since sparkling wines have become part of the Thanksgiving feast, I would like to offer some suggestions that are of excellent quality while not breaking the bank. For those who are traditionalists, I have included an excellent and affordable French champagne.

Letrari Prosecco ($26)
The Letrari Prosecco is a high-quality sparkling wine that can stand head and shoulders with the best of them at a reasonable price. Two things are immediately noticeable when the wine is poured: its greenish golden color and the constant stream of fine bubbles, both signs of a better wine. The aroma is a compendium of summer flowers, with honeysuckle being the most obvious. The flavor is crisp with a pleasant lemon-like flavor backed up by a fresh toast sensation and ending in the impression of toasted nuts. All of these aromas are reprised in the flavor with the addition of grapefruit and spice.

Zardetto Prosecco ($16)
This well-made prosecco is an excellent and affordable choice to accompany your Thanksgiving dinner. The mountain-grown grapes endow the wine with a creamy melon, citrus and pineapple flavor and aroma. The wine trails off with a yeast and toasted bread aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for a long time. This is a great fit to accompany winter holiday dinners because it can stand up to ham or turkey usually, as well as assorted side dishes, sweet or not.

Proyecto Cu4tro Spanish Cava ($22)
The name alone will cause much interest at the Thanksgiving table. I will not try to tell the reader where the name came from or what it means, because I just don't know. What I do know is that in spite of its science fiction name, there is a nice wine inside the silver-colored bottle it comes in. This wine presents citrus and apple aromas and flavors in abundance that are backed up by that sparkling wine standby of toasted bread in the finish. The country of origin and the color of the bottle are a sure thing to stir up many witty comments, but I am sure that the wine will please one and all.

Champagne Louis Roederer, Collection 242 ($63)
If a French champagne is the order of the day, Champagne Louis Roederer from a champagne house of the same name that was founded in 1776, will come as close to an affordable French champagne as one can get. Champagne Louis Roederer has been made from the traditional grape makeup comprising mostly chardonnay that has been blended with pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes and produced by the traditional method for making champagne. Chardonnay is the most prominent of the aromas with pinot noir and pinot meunier adding a dark fruit component. I am happy to see that there is now a true champagne, in every sense of the word, that is in a more affordable range.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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