Hint of Spice Levels in Sparkling Wines
4th May 2021
Spices come in many different forms and expressions with a long history attached. Be it from heat levels to colouring to a past showing connections to religious rituals and also including the likes of medicines, cosmetics and even perfume production.
Nearly every kitchen will have a collection of spices to enhance food preparation and serving, it is not only just a sprinkling of black pepper on your Sunday Roast, spices also give us wonderful colouring such as within Asian curries to sweeter spices enhancing cakes and cookies. Fine gastronomy globally rely much on herbs and spices with the latter offering many variations with countries such as India, China and Colombia being some of the biggest growers and exporters.
“A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavouring or colouring food.” source Wikipedia
It may sound somewhat surprising, but spices are also very much in the vocabulary when it comes to expressing the aromas and flavours in wines. This is not purely based around the likes of Mulled Wine that we see a spicy character omitted, white, reds and rosé also at times convey a spicy expression along with sparkling wines.
“I can remember a great Indian wine tasting I once had in London, myself and a few others who were new to their wines were blown away not only by the quality of what we tasted, but also the spicy characters that many of the wines, especially reds, held. Ever since then I am also interested to discover the spice characters in sparkling wines.“
Quite often, the fact that a wine sees contact with oak barrels, staves or chips (eugenol) during production will be a reason behind a spicy expression, though this can also be from the style of grape (skins mostly) and the terroir.
The Glass of Bubbly Champagne & Sparkling Wine Awards in London has a dedicated category to Spices in sparkling wines, entitled ‘Hint of Spice’ where judges can place wines in to this style of either aroma or flavours and sometimes both.
Wines that were tasted:
Dürnberg – Sparkling Rosé – Bronze Medal ‘Hint of Spice’: “White pepper on the nose with dusty green fruits in my opinion / memories. Citrus, raspberry, touch of pepper in flavours.”
Bisol – Jeio Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry – Bronze Medal ‘Hint of Spice’: “Soft golden pears, touch toasty with chalky, white apples on the nose. Soft and delicate white fruits, soft citrus flavours. Elegant.”
Vilarnau – Cava Barcelona Brut Reserva Rosé – Silver Medal ‘Hint of Spice’: “Silky raspberry on the nose. Touch of pastry on the nose. Fruity flavours showing white strawberry, dried raspberry. Love red berry fruits? Love this Bubbly!”
Silveri – Cuvée Brut Rosé – Silver Medal ‘Hint of Spice’: “White strawberry, apple blossom, pastry aromas. Dry red current initially, fresh and crisp – ideal for gastronomical delights.”
Cavas Naveran – Cava Dama Vintage Brut 2018 – Silver Medal ‘Hint of Spice’: “Green fruits and dry cheese with hints of petroleum in aromas. Soft green fruits, touch lime zest, hints of herbal and white pepper.”
Arunda – Excellor Brut Rosé N.V. – Gold Medal ‘Hint of Spice’: “Pink floral, sweet peach, pastry, soft sweet spices on the nose. Elegant and fresh. Raspberry, red berry juices, chalky white pepper, Alpine freshness on the nose.”
Champagne Autréau de Champillon – Extra Brut Champagne Premier Cru – Gold Medal ‘Hint of Spice’: “Wonderful pastry, citrus, soft white pepper notes on the nose. Dry, acidic flavours with citrus, minerals, touch of lightly toasted bread.”
Steininger – Muskateller 2018 – Trophy ‘Hint of Spice’: “Herbal and green character on the nose. Most engaging. A delightful expression of all things green to enhance a fabulous gastronomical delight. Once again green delights in flavours. All herbals from basil to rosemary. Fabulous. One to taste and enjoy for sure.“
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.