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Big on Thanksgiving

November 14, 2010

Wine appreciation is a funny thing.  The wine snobs have been so influential for so long that they have convinced otherwise rational people to believe some irrational things.

The worst thing to come from this era is the notion that good wine needs to be further aged before it is ready to drink.  This has resulted in countless bottles of wine being left unopened and un-enjoyed until they have diminished to shadows of their former selves.

The silliest thing to come from this era is the act of sniffing a cork.

Thankfully, the former wine writers at the Wall Street Journal created a holiday to try and reverse the damage of the former.  The latter will hopefully fade away as people learn that a cork just smells like a cork, and you need to actually smell and taste the wine itself to see if it’s tainted.

Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, I happened to glance at the wine column this week, and was reminded of two things.  One is an irrational piece of wine snobbery that is more rational than you would think.  The other is that the wine at the source of this very rational piece of wine snobbery would make another great choice for serving at Thanksgiving.  

This weekend when Lettie Teague wrote about mid-priced wine magnums she entirely omitted sparkling wines.  I found this surprising because sparkling wines actually taste better from a magnum than from a conventional 750ml bottle.

If I didn’t know this to be true from firsthand experience, I would call that last statement an irrational piece of wine snobbery.  Let me try putting it in more snobbish terms:

“Oh, you think this expensive champagne is good?  Well, you should try it in a magnum, it’s even better!”

When I was first exposed to this notion, I thought this was pure and utter hogwash created to try and get people to buy and consumer more wine.  I mean, after all it is the same wine, there is just more of it.  Right?


Sparkling wine goes through two fermentations.  The first turns grape juice into still wine.  The second turns wine into sparkling wine.  This second fermentation happens in the bottle itself.  Yeast is added to the wine, and it eats the sugar and poops carbonation.

In a magnum this process happens in a larger volume of wine that is more resilient to temperature fluctuations, and allows more room for the yeast to do their thing. Truthfully, the science behind it is a bit of a mystery, but what isn’t is that magnums result in a wine with a finer bubble structure and a creamier body.

I know this to be true because at the tasting room at Roederer Estate Mrs. Fussy and I sampled the same wine from two different bottles side by side.  It was clear they were the same wine.  They had the same core flavors and aromas.  They were served at the same temperature.  But at the same time they were clearly different.  And the magnum was clearly superior.


Luckily, magnums of mid-priced sparkling wines are easier to come by than magnums of mid-priced still wines.  Especially since bubbles are always a good choice for turkey day.

The lovely ladies who staffed the tasting room at Roederer Estate also claimed on that visit that sparkling wine goes with everything.  And after a lot of experimentation I would have to agree.  From burritos to wings, anything that tastes good with a beer will also taste good with the bubbles from wine.

It’s delicate enough to not overpower lighter flavors, but the palate-scrubbing bubbles are also powerful enough to cut through the heartiest foods.

Sparkling wine is always a festive addition to any gathering.  Not only would a magnum make the occasion that much more special, but you would get the added benefit of enjoying the unique properties of the wine inside.

Whether or not you want to mention this is entirely up to you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. John H. permalink
    November 14, 2010 6:49 pm

    I do agree that sparkling wines from larger bottles are great and work really well across the Thanksgiving spread of foods and flavors. We enjoyed a rose champagne that was excellent a few Thanksgivings. I giving a large bottle of rose sparkling wine a chance on Thanksgiving would be great thing too.

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