No need to keep a cork in it: Non-champagne sparkling wines are one of the best-kept secrets of the wine-sipping world.
When it comes to the sparkly side of sipping, who could blame you if the first word that springs to mind is “Champagne”? But of course! These storied bottles of bubbly are the stuff of legend. Widow Clicquot, anyone? The monk with the most, Dom Perignon? But there’s a zippy, zingy, zenith-seeking world of sparkling wine out beyond the borders of France’s best-known, northernmost sparkling-wine-producing region, offering not just value by the case, but also different flavors and aromas. “There are very interesting styles of sparkling that exist outside of the area of Champagne,” says Wynn’s Director of Wine Mark Thomas. “And there’s a significant amount of value, given several examples use the same fermentation process as the méthode champenoise. There’s a uniqueness that’s all about where they come from.” And that uniqueness can lend itself to all kinds of occasions—even the bar-centric kind. Wynn Resorts Master Mixologist Patricia Richards loves playing around with sparkling wine in her original cocktails and twists on classics. “When I’m coming up with a sparkling wine cocktail, I look more at the application,” she says, “as well as what I’m mixing with.” One of her recent creations blends the aromatic sparkling wine Moscato d’ Asti (from producer Elvio Tintero; it’s also served by the glass at Andrea’s and Bartolotta) with pear vodka, fresh lemon juice, and a little St-germain elderflower liqueur. Another favorite: the Bellissima Spritz, which uses the frizzante, semisparkling-wine–based Mionetto IL Spriz. But for Richards, there’s no reason to leave the Champers out of the equation. She crafted her signature cocktail The Dream—a gorgeous mix of Perrier Joüet Grand Brut, St-germain, hibiscus syrup, and a preserved hibiscus flower—as an homage to Wynn’s spectacular show Le Rêve—the Dream. The key to coming up with such great bubbly imbibables? “I try to make sure there’s harmony there,” she says. “When building a cocktail, you want the base—in this case the sparkling wine—to show through. Everything else you use is like a seasoning that should complement the main ingredient.” “Obviously, with all styles of sparkling wine, you can find heavier and richer versions to more crisp and lighter styles. I like seeing the subtle difference that comes with that,” says Thomas. “There’s always that measuring stick of trying to find the sparkling that tastes like a more expensive bottle and that’s so good it can hold up against Champagne.” What are his picks? “First, Franciacorta from Italy. It’s made in the same style and uses many of the same grapes, as well as Pinot Bianco. There’s a little extra oomph in terms of acidity and flavor.” If that pops your cork, you can sample Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvée Brut NV, by the glass or bottle, respectively, at Sinatra and Bartolotta. “Other places I’d look are Crémant de Limoux [from Languedoc],” says Thomas. “I’m doing a couple by the glass, like Gerard Bertrand’s at Lakeside. The acidity that you want in a sparkling wine is there, and it comes along with a richness at the same time. It’s fresh and very good for the price point.” Other sparklers Thomas likes? Crémant d’alsace: “They’ve been the secrets of sommeliers, especially the rosés.” Crémant de Loire: “Some are really interesting, and you can get a great mousseux. Plus it’s fun to try sparkling Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc; they’re good value, worth grabbing and experimenting with.” Spain’s Cava: “Great sparkling to start off a meal with.” And the darling of the sparkling wine world, Prosecco: “Stylistically, they have that initial attack of flavor and are very aromatic. They leave you with lots of bubbles [and] in a very good mood.” Which, of course, is what any sparkler should do—champers or not! n
The Bellissima Spritz, available at Tableau and the Tower Suites VIP pool area, gets its fizz from Mionetto IL Spriz, which is made with frizzante semi-sparkling wine.