I’ve never understood why more people don’t drink sparkling wine more often. One of the most fun parts of teaching my Cordon Bleu wine class was introducing the students to bubbly as something to drink with dinner (instead of, sadly, their preferred use — mimosas). Quality sparkling wine is fruity, has solid acid, and pairs with almost anything except big red meat. A wine note: Only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France is called Champagne. Everything else is not Champagne.
And the Gruet (about $14, and available at World Market and most liquor and grocery stores) is an exceptional example of well-priced, well-made bubbly. That it is from New Mexico – regional wine alert! – makes it even better. The Brut is crisp and full of green apple fruit, without the overdone oak and toastiness that defines so many other, more expensive sparklers and Champagnes. It’s also a little more sophisticated and softer than cava, Spanish sparkling wine.