Are you celebrating something?” I am asked this question quite frequently in restaurants because I like to order sparkling wine quite frequently (in addition to drinking it at home quite frequently). Few wines are more food friendly than sparkling wine. Indeed, Jeff Bareilles, the beverage director of Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, once told me that he considers pairing a dish with sparkling wine cheating because it pairs with almost anything. Given his ridiculously refined palate and encyclopedic expertise, he may not need to cheat, but I certainly do.
Anything with eggs (whether fish, chicken, quail, or duck), anything fried, and anything salty pairs magnificently with sparkling wine. My favorite sparklers are from Champagne, but I also love Cremant, Cava, Franciacorta, Prosecco, Sekt, and even a couple of domestic sparkling wines notwithstanding my personal preference for Old World wines, such as Roederer Estate l’Ermitage ($40), Schramsberg ($30), or Domaine Carneros ($30). Among Champagnes, I generally opt for grower-producer Champagnes (search the sides of the label for a series of letters and numbers that look like code and start with RM-, which stands for Récoltant-Manipulant), meaning that the estate that grows the grapes produce the wine, such as those from Chartogne-Taillet ($40–$70) or Cédric Bouchard ($50–$140), as opposed to the larger, more industrial Champagne houses (NM-, which stands for Négotiant-Manipulant). But I have my favorites among those, too, such as Ruinart ($60) and Philipponnat ($39).
Indulge yourself in some bubbles, and even the dreariest day can become celebratory.