Washington State "Sparkling Wine"

Washington State "Sparkling Wine"

It's summer. Why not celebrate with North American "sparkling wine" (yeah, I know, it's made using the same methods, and the same pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes as the "legal" Champagne wines from France)?

I'm rather partial to Washington winery Domaine Ste. Michelle. All they make is sparkling wines. They produce a number of different kinds of champagne, and are distributed widely enough that you can find their wines fairly reliably—and extremely affordably. Domaine Ste. Michelle lists their sparkling wines in terms of their styles, ranging from dry to sweet. I want to make something very clear; this is not the "cold duck" sort of wine your parents might have served; these are sparkling wines made using the traditional Méthode Champenoise. In fact, according to this article, New York Times Columnist Steven D. Levitt says that

In blind tests, Domaine Ste. Michelle Cuvee Brut, a $12 sparkling wine from Washington, is preferred nearly two to one to $150 Dom Perignon if you strip away the labels.

There's a complete list of all their offerings here, but if you're not familiar with the conventional but somewhat odd nomenclature used with sparkling wines, there's a convenient descriptive scale here. In most instances, I favor the Cuvee Brut; it's neither the dryest nor the sweetest, but it's lovely with or without food. I also favor the sweeter Frizzante as a dessert wine, or just because it's summer and the weather is gorgeous and there's going to be a sunset. Frizzante is a mix of grapes, but it's a careful mix, and quite thoroughly enjoyable. I plan on experimenting with both this summer in Champagne Cocktails.