Barefoot Bubbly, just because

Tonight I knew I wanted to preview a sparkling wine for Valentine’s Day. V-Day is one of a handful of holidays that practically demand a sparkling wine. And today is my husband’s birthday, so that was an even better reason to chill a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly. Image

But then as I plodded around the kitchen in my slippers, yoga pants gathering flour dust, I wasn’t so sure I could really pull of a sparkling wine tonight. Sparklers go with special occasions, and fun… and most decidedly NOT dusty yoga pants.

Contrary to my nature, I threw caution to the wind and popped open the bottle anyway. And I’m so glad I did! 

The first sip of icy cold, fizzy wine was exactly what I needed while I waited for artichokes to cook, among other mundane dinner tasks. Oh yes, screw convention, some sparkling wines are appropriate for ANY night, not just a special occasion! 

It’s no wonder that Barefoot Bubbly’s Brut Cuvee Champagne won a gold medal in the 2012 Winemaker’s Challenge International Wine Competition. It is dry, refreshing, soft, and tasty. Grapefruit, apple, and pear play so well together to keep the taste light and clean without giving way to a sour bite.

As I poured my, ahem, second glass, I leaned against the sink – full of dirty dishes! – and enjoyed the fact that I was indulging in a delicious sparkling wine that would play as perfectly on a holiday as it did tonight: A lazy Sunday night. In my yoga pants, slippers, and pigtails.

You can easily find this wine at most grocery stores for around $10. Barefoot is always a safe bet in value wine, and its bubbly versions are no exception. It’s a solid bet for a weeknight, Valentine’s Day, hubby’s birthday, or just because you deserve it, dammit! 

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Happy non-Valentine’s Day with Pink Panda

My husband and I don’t “do” Valentine’s Day. We’ve never been the sappy-card couple or the dress-in-pink-and-go-out-for-a-fancy-dinner couple. One year he gave me roses… that he bought at a gas station, and that was the first and last year we bothered to get romantic on Valentine’s Day.

In fact, I kind of prefer the intentionally non-romantic gestures. A big middle finger to the establishment. Yeah, that’s right. No romantic comedies on our Netflix tonight. It’s all about “Apocalypse Now” this February 14!

Ok, maybe that’s getting extreme, but it sets the stage for today’s wine pick,
Pink Panda, a marvelous pink sparkling wine from the ultimate middle-finger-to-the-establishment winery, Naked Rebel Winery. Yes: Naked. Rebel. (more on their eponymous wine here)

pink panda 3

Winemaker Chip Forsythe. C’mon, you can totally see how “Naked Rebel” and a pink dancing panda could come from this.

This is a winery composed of California college buddies who liked the notion of making their own wine (so they didn’t have to buy it) and recruited some friends to join the adventure. I’m pretty sure there must be a story behind the winery name… probably stemming from too much sampling of their wares, but that’s just speculation.

But why shouldn’t they sample their own creation? It’s really good! (you like that segue way?)

The Pink Panda is an Alexander Valley, Calif., pinot fermented with the Charmat method, which produces light, airy fizz., and is fairly close to the “sweet” end of the sugar scale. (yeah, I had to check wikipedia to make this line sound so smart)

pink panda 2The result is a delicious mix of sugar-crusted grapefruit, or a juicy cherry wrapped in pink cotton candy. I once had a cocktail that was some sort of fruit-liquor concoction poured over a mound of cotton candy, which then dissolved into the drink. Yes, it was sweet, but balanced so nicely with the fruit that it was drinkable… more than drinkable, it was delicious! I had three!

This is epitome of fun sparkling wines. The bottle is fun (who doesn’t love dancing panda bears?), the winery is fun, and the flavor is fun. If you’re snobby about your wine, you may not want to play in this sandbox, because this is where the cool kids hang.

And these Naked Rebels have obviously done their research in labeling, and by “research,” I think they’d agree that means lots of drinking in lots of questionable locations. And their research led to the decision to screen print the bottle with a glow-in-the-dark label. You know, so you can find the bottle with the lights off!

pink panda 1Ah yes, my Valentine’s night was not softly lit by candles and a crackling fire. No, my husband and I gazed at each other’s faces illuminated by explosions of napalm on the TV and a glowing dancing panda.

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Update: For some silly reason, we didn’t finish the bottle on Valentine’s Day, so we polished it off tonight. It didn’t pair well with my chicken enchiladas AT ALL, but who cares?

Note: This wine was provided to me by the winery. But as with all wines I sample, I only write about what I like. My mama taught me right: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Zonin Prosecco, fresh take on sparkling wine

I had the best intentions of tasting and recommending Zonin Prosecco for Christmas dinner,  Imagebut here it is mid-January and I have yet to post my thoughts on this most fantastic bubbly. Really, my words will be brief. It’s such a simply perfect sparkling wine that my advice is just to go buy a bottle and enjoy it. Now!

Ok, I suppose I should give you a little more than that. I enjoyed the prosecco with roast turkey, cornbread stuffing and salad on Christmas Eve. And I enjoyed it with the s’mores I had for dessert. I would have enjoyed it again on Christmas Day, but it was gone. You see, this wine goes with simply everything. It is so light and easy to drink that you can pair it with anything – or nothing – and it will shine.

Prosecco is generally dry, and Zonin’s creation certainly is dry, but what sets it apart is that it’s not tart in its lack of sugar. It’s remarkably refreshing and smooth, the perfect presentation of fruit with a nutty note. The bubbles are so delicate, they froth rather than fizz. That’s one of my favorite traits of a good sparkling wine – a buttery froth rather than an explosion of carbonation.

Zonin is Italy’s largest privately held winery, and they have been perfecting the region’s varietals since 1821. This prosecco is a new addition to their lineup of wines, and it’s a wise addition. They manage to present a fresh take on an old wine. It’s the kind of bubbly you can feel proud to serve on a special occasion or just to dress up a weeknight dinner.

The next holiday coming up is Valentine’s Day, and this would be an excellent choice to impress your loved one. It’s an out-of-the-box choice, not your standard Champagne, and not one of the hundreds (thousands?) of California sparkling wines. It’s an Italian classic tastefully rejuvenated by the Zonin family.

There I go, getting wordy when I said I wouldn’t. So go buy it. Now.

* Note: This wine was provided to me by the winery.