N.V. Banero Prosecco and Cholent
On the week of October 22nd we enjoyed a simple meal of Parve Cholent and a bottle of the new Trader Joe kosher wine – Banero Prosecco. Prosecco is the Italian version of Champagne, except that it is not. Champagne is a term used ONLY for wine made in the Champagne area of France. Of course, the term has been used recently to mean bubbly or sparkling wine in general, and that of course annoys the French greatly, as it diminishes the special aspects of Champagne. So, they have trademarked the term, so that wine made outside of Champagne cannot use the Champagne moniker. Prosecco is a bubbly and sparkling wine, but it is made with the less expensive method of secondary fermentation known as Charmat.
To start grapes used in sparkling wines are commonly picked early to minimize the sugars in them. This also causes the grapes to be higher in acid, as the sugar is grapes are in inverse proportion the acid in grapes, as the grapes ripen and increase their sugar, the grapes acid goes down. The higher the sugar and ripeness of the grapes the higher the alcohol content of the wine will be. Which is OK (sometimes), for bold red wines, but for bubbly wine which is consumed at a higher rate, it would be a bad night for most after two glasses. To allow for pleasant drinking without a massive buzz, sparkling wine makers pick the grapes early, thereby having lower sugar content, which means lower alcohol. However, with lower sugar and higher acid, the wine maker must do wonders to make it palatable.
When you enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine, no matter the version, what you are enjoying is a wine that has, in one or another, undergone two sugar fermentation(s). The first is the usual one which happens when the grapes are crushed and pressed and then yeast is added to ferment the wine. What is happening is that the yeast is eating the sugar in the wine juice and creating alcohol as its byproduct. Then the wine is aged in steel or wood and then is bottled. The wine at this point may not be so stellar in nature, as we explained because of its higher acid and lower sweetness. Then the wine is then ready for bottling and the start of the second fermentation, yeast and sugar are reintroduced to each bottle, and then they are closed with a beer cap. The wines go through a second fermentation and can be aged there for as many as 8 years. The wine sits on its lees, the byproduct of acid and sugar being consumed by yeast. More alcohol is added to the mix as well by this second fermentation, but there is so little sugar added that the alcohol change is barely noticeable. This second fermentation and the aging help to improve the wine and of course add bubbles!
Finally, after the requisite second fermentation is deemed complete, the lees are convinced to move to the neck of the bottle, the bottle neck is frozen, the cap is removed, and the frozen lees shoot out. To make up for the lost space, the wine maker adds in brandy, port, sugar, or some other special ingredient and of course a bit of sulfur dioxide as a last bit of preservative.
Well this weekend we wanted to pair our cholent with a not so obvious wine choice – Prosecco. Sparkling wine was a lovely pairing with our vegetarian cholent and one that I really enjoyed to boot. This wine turned out to be really nice and one worth looking into. As we spoke about last week, Trader Joe is selling a few Kosher wines for a nice price. We will be tasting them throughout the next few weeks so keep watching. This is the second wine of the group that we will be tasting.
N.V. Banero Prosecco – Score B+
The nose on this straw colored Prosecco is screaming with a lovely bubble fest, along with a nice muscat nose, perfume, orange rind, yeast, toast, and honey. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, apple, muscat perfume, honey, prolonged small mousse bubbles, and toast. The mid palate is core with acidity, toast, and drop of yeast, and orange peel. The finish is long and mousse-y with honey, slight bitterness, and toast. This is a wine that has a bit of beer bitterness at the start, but quickly leads into the muscat and perfume infused mouth which is rich with small mousse bubbles that lie on your palate for a very long time, long after the wine is gone.