Russ Winton: Wine List

April 9, 2013

Wine Line: A closer look at some sparkling wines

I suggested we put a little pop and fizz into blue Mondays. The editor agreed. So we popped the cork on 12 different sparkling wines from Jan. 7 to March 25.

Bubbles add pop and fizz to Mondays A few months ago, I wrote that we should all drink more champagne. Why not?

We could designate one day a week as a "special occasion" and celebrate with a bottle of bubbly.

I suggested we put a little pop and fizz into blue Mondays. The editor agreed. So we popped the cork on 12 different sparkling wines from Jan. 7 to March 25.

We tasted two cavas from Spain, eight sparkling wines from California, Washington and Argentina, one Italian prosecco and one French cremant. I rated the wines from one to three stars. A three-star wine would be the one you want to open first, maybe even before your guests arrive. Two-star ratings go to crisp sparkling wines with never-ending bubbles. These wines pair well with most foods. Finally, a one-star bubbly could be used for making mimosas, christening new ships or encouraging your guests to go home.

Our three top scores of this quarter were: Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut (3 stars, $17.99 Costco), Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (2-plus stars, $7.99 all markets) and Barefoot Bubbly Rose Cuvee (2 stars, $6.99 all markets). The Roederer has a touch of yeast on the nose with peachy/apricot flavors and endless tiny bubbles. The Segura Viudas is an excellent value from Spain, light in color and very dry. It would be terrific with fresh oysters. The Barefoot Bubbly Rose Cuvee is off-dry but not cloying, dark pink color with red fruit/strawberry flavors. Try it with salted nuts or popcorn. Cheers to Monday bubbles.

Great wine deals

There are more wine choices now available to valley shoppers. Save Mart has increased the number of wines it carries in each store. The Atwater store has added 145 new labels or brands to its wine wall. According to Save Mart sources, many of these new wines are a reflection of the increased demand for moscatos of all colors and sweet reds. Save Mart has the best wine discount available for shoppers: 10 percent off with a purchase of four bottles.

How would you like to discover 10 wines you'll like in 60 seconds or less?

"The One Minute Wine Master," by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, will do just that. You take a one-minute quiz, total up your points and your score will determine your wine preference category. Are you a fall, winter, spring or summer? The book is a good read; it's $14.95 from Sterling Epicure. But if you want to cut to the chase, you can take the test online at My score indicated my wine preferences lean toward the fall varieties, but I know I like winter and my heart says I should go with spring and summer. I guess having 60 favorite wines isn't too much, is it?

How would you like to visit 14 Amador County wineries for 10 days for $15? The 10-day event (Friday through April 21) allows wine tasters to visit wineries without the crowds. Or, the option of trying new wineries. The passport is available for purchase at the Amador Vintners Association office in Plymouth between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on any of the passport days or on the website at Now that is a great deal!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? You reach me at

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