A Napa Valley Sparkling Wine Tour
We couldn't honeymoon in San Francisco without taking a daytrip to wine country! My personal favorite is prosecco, so we wanted to hand pick a vineyard specializing in sparkling wine. We settled on a winery called Domaine Carneros and scheduled a tour.
While you won't see Domaine Carneros bottles on the shelf at your local store (as they're sold exclusively at the winery itself and online), you may very well recognize the champagne of their founders, the Taittingers.
Domaine Carneros by Taittinger
On our last full day in San Francisco, we rented a car for the day, and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, past hills of green and grapes in diagonal rows, accented with pink roses and a hazy blue suggestion of mountains in the background.
We drove up to Domaine Carneros and immediately understood how it had been modeled after a French chateau, with its magnificent terrace and grand staircase. While the setting was beautiful and the tasting the highlight of the visit, we also liked learning a lot about how my drink of choice is made and paired by the pros.
For instance, Domaine Carneros sits at the southern tip of Napa Valley, where it's typically 20ish degrees cooler than the rest of Napa Valley. This location is strategic because a cooler climate is better for the grapes that are used to make Chardonnays and pinots and thus sparkling wines. Once the grapes have been picked and the wine made, the dim lighting inside the aging cellar keeps the bottles cool as well.
Our tour guide also let us in on the secret that sparkling wines aren't necessarily lower quality if they have a screw-on cap. The key is just to drink it earlier than most cork-sealed bottles. What can indicate quality though is the size of the bubbles. You want them to be as minuscule as possible!
"Those who know our sparkling wines speak of their balance, depth of flavor and wonderful finish; their great aroma, elegant style and little, tiny bubbles. Classic. Sophisticated. Timeless. Think Audrey Hepburn in a little black dress." - Eileen Crane, Domaine Carneros Winemaker
Sparkling Wine Pairings
My favorite fact was learning that I'm not the only one who drinks sparkling wine with a lot more than just fancy food. It turns out there's actually a real reason for that!
While most people think of sparkling wine for weddings, New Year's parties and other celebrations, it's actually really good with a lot of different types of food you might eat on any normal day. That's because its acidity cuts through oils and fats and even refreshes your taste buds for the next bite.
Our tour guide even told us to try Rose with barbecue! Would you dare? I would...