The world has discovered Italian bubbles. Our winegrowers’ sales volumes show positive two-figure results. But not all bubbles are equal. The most common cause of confusion lies between the Metodo Classico and Prosecco produced by the Metodo Martinotti or Charmat. Both fall into the category of spumante sparkling wines, but the former undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle and is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, while the latter is mainly produced from glera grapes.
Today, we are only going to deal with the Metodo Classico. It is infinitely versatile and may be consumed throughout the meal, so long as you start with a brut and finish with a demi-sec or sweet wine. The secret for recognizing the various types lies in the sugar residue. Here are the magic words on the label enabling you to understand what type of wine you are buying: Pas Dosé, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec or Dry, Demi-Sec, Dolce. The sugar content ranges from 3 g per litre for a Pas Dosé to 50 g per litre for a Dolce.
Let’s examine the most common type of Metodo Classico: Brut.
On the nose, Metodo Classico recalls yeast and pastries, fruit preserves, slightly withered flowers and even notes of citrus fruit. On the palate, it is sapid, with a pleasing, almost creamy freshness. According to how long it has been on the lees, it may regale the classical hint of bread crust, brioche or croissant just out of the oven. Notes of dried fruit, raisins and candied fruit, as long as they confer complexity and harmony within the limits of its subtle elegance.
Metodo Classico is excellent with fish and elaborate fish dishes. It must be remembered, though, that the tastier the dish, the more assertive the spumante needs to be. A simple yet excellent pairing is with scampi or smoked salmon. The iodine in fish, in fact, finds a loyal companion in the characteristic acidity of sparkling wine.
It loves all cold cuts, but Metodo Classico and culatello is the noblest of pairings.
Well sauced pasta or spaghetti with seafood team up well with a young and fragrant Metodo Classico with hints of bread crust.
Shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano are enhanced by a Metodo Classico.
An unusual yet perfect pairing is the one with pumpkin-filled Tortelli pasta.
With this type of wine, a pairing based on contrast will exploit the presence of carbon dioxide. So, it is perfect whenever we wish to cut through the oiliness of a food and leave the palate clean. A marvellous pairing is with fish and chips. Also with mixed fried fish or fried zucchini flowers.
Also in the way of a fortunate contrast, any creamy dish of spaghetti or risotto will do the trick. This is because fatty foods love wines that are rich in acidity, effervescence and full flavour, such as the Metodo Classico, which compensates the tendency towards sweetness expressed by potato or pasta starch.
With grilled fish, we should choose a nice fresh spumante to contrast the slightly bitter notes produced by the grilling method.
Buffalo mozzarella, with a creaminess tending towards sweetness, makes for a harmonious contrast.
The Metodo Classico Brut is the worst possible pairing for a dessert, which ought to be based on a match pairing. Therefore, sweet food with a sweet wine, and never a contrast (sweet food with dry wine). So, if you prefer not to spoil your slice of Panettone, avoid pairing it with these wines. Otherwise your palate will be assaulted by a wave of sourness.
Another unpleasant experience is that of sipping a flute of Metodo Classico paired with dishes containing acidulous notes, such as sweet and sour sardines or pickled vegetables.