In the early 1500s, Benedictine monks developed what is believed to be the world’s first sparkling wine. Thanks to marketing genius, the bubbly wine would become associated with celebration in modern times. Thanks to even greater branding genius, the Champagne region of France became the only region allowed to make it, and the bubbling drink and the region became synonymous. But, of course, the Champagne region is not the only place where sparkling wine is produced. Italy makes its own sparkling drink (prosecco), and even here in Connecticut, there are several options when it comes to bubbly. Here, we look at three of them.
While these drinks cannot legally be called Champagne, and are made with different methods and in some cases different fruits, they offer the same celebratory pop. Remember to watch your eyes.
Winery: Bishop’s Orchards, Guilford; Price: $22.49
This sparkling peach wine may not remind you of a traditional Champagne, but it will remind you of summer. It uses peach juice to create a variety of floral fruit flavors that are not nearly so sweet as you might expect. It’s one of several sparkling wines in Bishop’s lineup. Rubus Nightfall ($25.99) is a sparkling raspberry wine that won the 2013 Gold Medal at the Grand Harvest Awards in Sonoma, California. You can try both by doing a tasting at Bishop’s Orchards market in Guilford, where wine tastings are available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 203-453-2338, bishopsorchards.com
Winery: White Silo Farm & Winery, Sherman; Price: $21
A far departure from traditional sparkling wines (which are made with white wine grapes), this fruit wine is made with fresh raspberries and is bursting with character. Sweet enough to be a better fit with dessert than dinner, it is so easy to drink it is almost dangerous — during research for this story two glasses were consumed in record time. A wonderful substitute for a cocktail, this raspberry-powered drink is quite different from your normal sparkling fare and perfect for celebrations. White Silo is also a scenic locale with sweeping views of beautiful Connecticut farmland, and is worth the trip here for a bottle. 860-355-0271, whitesilowinery.com
Sparkling Wine Estate Bottled (Gold Label)
Winery: Hopkins Vineyard, New Preston; Price: $39
The most traditional champagne-like of the Connecticut sparkling wines, this refreshing drink takes three years to make. The wait is worth it. Crisp, clean and dry, it has a refreshing zest and notes of hazelnuts and fresh bread. Made with the traditional Champagne method, this is the perfect wine for a traditional Champagne enthusiast who wants to try toasting his or her next celebration with something locally produced. You can buy bottles at the vineyard to take home, but you’ll also want to enjoy at least one glass at the scenic winery overlooking Lake Waramaug. 860-868-7954, hopkinsvineyard.com