Once reserved for special occasions and celebratory toasts, sparkling wine is gaining popularity as an everyday drink — and the trend has infiltrated the North Fork, where wineries are noticing an uptick in sales of the bubbly stuff.
“This is our busiest season yet,” said Kelsey Cheslock, public relations and marketing coordinator at Sparkling Pointe in Southold. “We’ve seen such an increase in tourism.”
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Sparkling Pointe, which produces only sparkling wines, has observed greater interest in their product. More telling is the growing number of North Fork wineries beginning to enter the bubbly market.
Take, for instance, Paumanok Vineyards in Jamesport, which will debut its first sparkling wine, a 2009 vintage made from chardonnay, next month. Mattituck’s Macari Vineyards is also getting set to release its first sparkling wine early next year.
The reason is straightforward, those in the industry say: More Americans are drinking sparkling wine.
According to Vinexpo, an international wine exhibition started in 1981 in Bordeaux, France, U.S. consumption of sparkling wine ranks fourth in the world, after Germany, France and Russia, and increased by nearly 18 percent between 2007 and 2011.
Sparkling wine can be made a number of ways, but the most common technique used is méthode champenoise, a process in which wine undergoes a second fermentation once it’s been bottled. The result is a refreshing wine with the tiny bubbles everyone seems to love.
“Sparkling is a market for tomorrow,” Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat told Wine Enthusiast in an article printed earlier this month. Vinexpo monitors global trends through commissioned research studies conducted every two years by International Wine and Spirit Research.
So, why is sparkling wine becoming so trendy?
“I think sparkling wine is something that has become less intimidating to people,” said Kelly Urbanik, winemaker at Macari. “People are drinking it now more with food.” That includes Ms. Urbanik, who likes to pair sparkling wine with different types of cheese. It also goes particularly well with fruit, experts say.
Sparkling Pointe winemaker Gilles Martin, who grew up 10 miles outside France’s Champagne region, said he always begins a meal with sparkling wine. He recommends pairing Sparkling Pointe’s most popular wine, the 2009 Brut, with oysters, sushi or caviar.
“Every day is a celebration, so you need to have sparkling wine every day,” Mr. Martin said. “I think what people realize is that it’s a wine that can be drunk on its own as an aperitif or with food.”
Because of its history as a celebratory drink, sparkling wine also helps put people in a festive mood.
“Most of the time it helps put your guests at ease,” Mr. Martin said. “And I would say it’s a much easier wine to drink than most other wines.”
And, when it comes down to it, some people just like the way sparkling wine makes them feel.
“It makes me feel like I’m celebrating,” said Allene Goldberg, a Sparkling Pointe wine club member who was sipping bubbly last week at the vineyard. “It makes me feel important.”