Check Please! Host and Master Sommelier Alpana Singh joins us to talk about low-calorie holiday drinks, cost-effective champagne and hard ciders in Ask Alpana on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
- Champagne from France typically begins at around $40 a bottle. One well-priced option is the Duval-Leroy Champagne at $30.
- Sarasola Sargadoa Cider from Spain, $12
- Rustic, musty and tart, Spanish cider (or sidra) is one of the great treasures of the cider world. Sidra production in the España Verde region of Spain began in the late 11th century when the region's climate was unfavorable for grape cultivation. Farmers planted apple orchards instead of grapes and began producing their own cider. Over time, two main production regions—Asturias and the Basque region—began to develop strong cider traditions and defined what we now consider Spanish cider.
- Sidras tend to have a dominant wild yeast character and a dry, tannic finish. These ciders are fermented naturally, without any added sugars or sweeteners, and are usually still, not sparkling. Both Asturian and Basque ciders exhibit acidic, complex, and musty flavors perfect for fans of traditional Belgian Lambics. When served outside of a Spanish sidreria or sagardotegi (cider house), Spanish cider is served from a standard 750ml bottle. Instead of opening the bottle and letting it "breathe," Spain has a custom known as "throwing the cider." A server pours the cider from a height of approximately one meter to aerate and enhance the aroma and flavor of the cider.
- Another great local option from cider comes from Michigan: J.K.'s Solstice Hard Farmhouse Cider from Flushing, Michigan, $7 (22 oz): This seasonal, organic, hard cider is just as good as the original with a touch of cinnamon, vanilla and a small drop of maple syrup from old maple trees grown on the farm. This cider can be enjoyed cool or lightly warmed.
- In the U.S., table wine is a legal definition for a wine with less than 14 percent alcohol. It has nothing to do with the grape variety. In many European countries, the term “table wine” is the lowest classification of wines within an appellation category. For example, vino da tavola or vin de table.