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The Secrets Behind Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is made in the traditional way from 3 classic grape varietals — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Because these three wines are known to be so food friendly, the delicate and bubbly wines made from them are a natural companion for a wide range of foods. With the holidays just around the corner, we asked Ellen Flora, Chandon's Senior Wine Ambassador, to share her expertise in choosing wines for the year's most festive gatherings...

Ellen Flora - Senior Wine Ambassador

Sparkling wine is made in the traditional way from 3 classic grape varietals — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Because these three wines are known to be so food friendly, the delicate and bubbly wines made from them are a natural companion for a wide range of foods. With the holidays just around the corner, we asked Ellen Flora, Chandon's Senior Wine Ambassador, to share her expertise in choosing wines for the year's most festive gatherings...

"Greeting your guests with a bottle of the very best sparkling wine really sets the tone for a holiday event like Thanksgiving. Opening a bottle of etoile Brut with its elegant style will tell your guests they are very special."

"I have to say I'm a bit partial to etoile, our prestige cuvée. It's my favorite pairing for the rich appetizers that I love to serve at our family get-togethers. Whether it's crab cream on endive, new potatoes with crème fraîche & Tsar Nicolai™ caviar, honey goat cheese tarts, or a simple platter of fresh organic vegetables with dip, etoile brings out the best in my favorite holiday recipes."

"This year, I'm planning to surprise my family with a bottle of our new etoile Tête de Cuvée sometime before dinner (please don't tell them, it's a big surprise!). etoile Tête de Cuvée is a first from Chandon. Made from millennial grapes harvested in 2000, it's been almost 10 years in the making. I've had the privilege of tasting it, and I can say it's definitely been worth the wait!"

"To begin the meal, I love to have a toast that brings everyone together. In my family, we tend to go around the table and mention the things that each of us feels most grateful for. Usually we all say 'we're grateful for each other' in different ways. For moments like this, etoile Rosé is my hands-down choice. Our winemaker works a bit of Pinot Noir still wine into the mix, which makes this wine a rosé with great berry flavors and a rich mouthfeel."

Ellen Flora's favorite holiday wines and pairings

"Chardonnay is a popular varietal that makes a good pairing for turkey breast, seasonal fresh crab, corn puddings, whipped potatoes, and cream- or cheese-embellished dishes. I always make sure to have Chandon Reserve Chardonnay Brut or Domaine Chandon Carneros Chardonnay on hand when I serve these dishes."

"Domaine Chandon Reserve Russian River Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier can complete the wines on your table, as they pair well with the darker meats in turkey, duck, goose and stuffings made with nuts, mushroom and oysters. I usually make these two wines available to my guests throughout the meal, in addition to the Chardonnay, and let everyone choose their favorites as we enjoy the dinner."

"This year I will also be adding Domaine Chandon Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir to the holiday mix, since my brother loves the intensity and depth of this wine."

"Now I'm going to let you in on a little wine-pairing secret. The varietals you serve with holiday meals need not be still wines — Chandon sparkling wines have the same flavor profiles, and great personality to boot! This is because they are made from the same Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes as the still wines I have just been talking about. So, you can pair them with foods in the same way you pair still wines. The bubbles will only add to the fun of your gathering!"

"Of course, no holiday meal would be complete without some bubbly at the end. So at my table, we will end the meal with Chandon Extra Dry Riche to refresh the palate as we move on to our desserts."

"All things considered, Thanksgiving just might be my favorite holiday...and the season is just beginning! I can't wait to start planning my wine pairings for New Year's Eve..."