Scan the glowing wine checklist at any restaurant and also you’ll see a number of acquainted names: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava. However you most likely received’t discover one in every of Europe’s lesser recognized, food-friendly, and affordably-priced wines: Sekt, a glowing wine from Germany and Austria.
Although it might not be there but, Sekt must be one of many first wines that involves thoughts if you’re planning any cheers-worthy exercise. Because the climate warms up, Sekt—with its monumental vary of types and value factors—is flexible sufficient to swimsuit the whole lot from a birthday brunch to a marriage toast. Whereas Sekt hasn’t been broadly exported exterior Germany and Austria previously, it’s more and more making its solution to wine outlets all over the world, and its under-the-radar profile implies that hype hasn’t but inflated its value.
Sekt, in German, simply means “glowing wine.” The phrase “Sekt” describes not one type of glowing wine however a variety, from cut-rate grocery retailer bubbly to advanced wines rivaling Champagne. Whereas Sekt all the time comes from Germany or Austria, it may be produced from virtually any grape, and in white, purple, or rosé type, with ABV sometimes between 10% and 13%.
With a lot variation, how are you aware what to anticipate if you open a bottle? Worth can supply a clue. The price of the wine—and due to this fact the winemaker’s price range—performs an enormous position in Sekt’s high quality and style. The next price range means increased high quality grapes and extra advanced, time-consuming winemaking strategies. Fortuitously, well-made Sekt might be discovered for significantly lower than you’d pay for better-known sparklers of comparable high quality, and even award-winning bottles are sometimes bought within the $15 to 30 vary. (Not like with different glowing wines, the barrier to entry isn’t the value, however discovering it with out flying throughout the Atlantic. Most massive wine outlets will carry Sekt, but when yours doesn’t, you’ll be able to ask them to particular order it or purchase it from a web-based retailer.)
The making of Sekt
All Sekt begins out as a nonetheless, low-alcohol wine. Winemakers then add sugar and yeast, and the wine undergoes a second fermentation in a pressurized atmosphere, forcing carbon dioxide bubbles and a bit of additional alcohol into the wine. Decrease-end Sekt normally undergoes its second fermentation in massive tanks, whereas higher-quality Sekt is commonly bottle-fermented like Champagne. (Carbon dioxide injection—the strategy used to make soda and the most affordable glowing wines—can’t be used to make Sekt.) Price range Sekt—normally below $15, and most of it destined for home consumption in Germany and Austria—is launched instantly, whereas one of the best Sekt spends months getting old on its leftover lifeless yeast, known as lees, which provides taste notes of toast, nuts, and buttermilk.
Worth additionally influences which grapes are used and the place these grapes are grown. Low cost Sekt—the type you’d be snug mixing right into a mimosa—is straightforward and fruity, and might be produced from grapes sourced exterior Germany and Austria, typically worldwide grape varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in bulk winegrowing areas of France, Spain, or Italy. Excessive-quality Sekt—normally over $15, however not often over $60—is grown in premium winegrowing areas like Austria’s Burgenland or Germany’s Mosel, the place cool climates assist grapes retain their acidity. These types of Sekt are sometimes produced from grapes native to Germany and Austria, every with their very own distinctive flavors. Piercingly tart Riesling, for instance, contributes inexperienced apple, stone fruit and citrus notes to Sekt, whereas aromatic Gewurztraminer provides flavors of lychee and spice. Nonetheless wines produced from completely different grape varieties might be blended previous to secondary fermentation so as to add steadiness and complexity to the ensuing Sekt.
Studying the label
When purchasing for Sekt, it helps if in case you have a little bit of German below your belt. Alongside particulars like grape selection and ABV, the label will let you know all in regards to the Sekt’s high quality designation—written into strict winemaking legal guidelines in each Germany and Austria—and the place the place it’s grown and made. Deutscher Sekt can solely be produced from German grapes, whereas Sekt bestimmter Anbaugebiete have to be grown in one in every of Germany’s 13 high quality winegrowing areas. The best German high quality tier, Winzersekt, is bottle-fermented and lees-aged for at the least 9 months. In Austria, three tiers of high quality—Klassik, Reserve, and Große Reserve—regulate area of origin, alcohol stage, winemaking strategies, and lees getting old with rising strictness.
Labels additionally reveal Sekt’s sweetness stage. Wines labeled herb (equal to “brut” in Champagne) comprise little to no sugar, whereas trocken (“dry”) wines could be a tiny bit candy. You’ll discover extra sugar in halbtrocken (“off-dry”) or gentle (“candy”) wines, excellent for pairing with dessert (or on these days when a pint of ice cream doesn’t reduce it). Sweetness ranges are additionally generally expressed in French phrases like “brut,” or English phrases like “dry,” particularly in wines supposed for broad export.
Sekt to try to really helpful pairings
To get began with Sekt this spring, you received’t have to spend far more than the value of a tragic desk lunch. Austrian winemaker Szigeti produces a dry, bottle-fermented Klassik produced from Grüner Veltliner grown within the Neusidlersee area. The bottle I picked up final week—for about $20, the candy spot for a number present—boasted vigorous bubbles, contemporary apple and pear flavors, and just-noticeable sweetness. The wine works properly as a refreshing counterpart to fatty, salty snacks, like cured meat, smoked salmon, or almonds.
One other reasonably priced alternative at round $15 is Sektkellerei Ohlig’s 50° N Brut Weiss, the identify of which refers back to the latitude of the German winemaking city of Rüdesheim am Rhein. Bottle-fermented and crafted from Müller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, and Pinot Blanc, you’ll be able to pair this brightly acidic, citrusy wine with one thing equally acidic, like strawberries, cherries, or a inexperienced salad with French dressing.
For rosé lovers seeking to splurge, Von Buhl’s Rosé Brut Sekt is available in at round $42. Grown in Pfalz, the place the Haardt Mountains present one of many driest, warmest climates in Germany by sheltering the area’s vineyards from wind and rain, this Sekt is bone dry with high-quality bubbles and notes of strawberry, raspberry, and toast. It’s produced from 100% Pinot Noir (known as “Spätburgunder” in German) and ages on its lees within the bottle for 20 months. Pair it with a seafood dish like Rhine-style mussels, or a comfortable, fatty cheese like Limburger.
Have you ever tried Sekt? What do you wish to drink with it?