Scan the glowing wine listing at any restaurant and also you’ll see a number of acquainted names: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava. However you most likely received’t discover certainly one of Europe’s lesser identified, food-friendly, and affordably-priced wines: Sekt, a glowing wine from Germany and Austria.
Although it is probably not there but, Sekt needs to be one of many first wines that involves thoughts once you’re planning any cheers-worthy exercise. Because the climate warms up, Sekt—with its huge vary of types and value factors—is flexible sufficient to swimsuit every part from a birthday brunch to a marriage toast. Whereas Sekt hasn’t been broadly exported exterior Germany and Austria prior to now, it’s more and more making its solution to wine outlets world wide, and its under-the-radar profile signifies 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 complicated wines rivaling Champagne. Whereas Sekt at all times comes from Germany or Austria, it may be constructed from nearly any grape, and in white, pink, or rosé type, with ABV sometimes between 10% and 13%.
With a lot variation, how have you learnt what to anticipate once you open a bottle? Value can provide a clue. The price of the wine—and subsequently the winemaker’s price range—performs an enormous position in Sekt’s high quality and style. The next price range means greater high quality grapes and extra complicated, time-consuming winemaking methods. Luckily, well-made Sekt will 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. (In contrast to with different glowing wines, the barrier to entry isn’t the worth, however discovering it with out flying throughout the Atlantic. Most massive wine outlets will carry Sekt, but when yours doesn’t, you possibly can 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 setting, forcing carbon dioxide bubbles and a bit of additional alcohol into the wine. Decrease-end Sekt often undergoes its second fermentation in massive tanks, whereas higher-quality Sekt is usually 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.) Funds Sekt—often beneath $15, and most of it destined for home consumption in Germany and Austria—is launched straight away, whereas the very best Sekt spends months ageing on its leftover useless yeast, known as lees, which provides taste notes of toast, nuts, and buttermilk.
Value 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 easy and fruity, and will be constructed 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—often 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 constructed 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 constructed from totally different grape varieties will 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 you probably have a little bit of German beneath your belt. Alongside particulars like grape selection and ABV, the label will let you know all concerning 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 constructed from German grapes, whereas Sekt bestimmter Anbaugebiete have to be grown in certainly one of Germany’s 13 high quality winegrowing areas. The best German high quality tier, Winzersekt, is bottle-fermented and lees-aged for a minimum of 9 months. In Austria, three tiers of high quality—Klassik, Reserve, and Große Reserve—regulate area of origin, alcohol stage, winemaking strategies, and lees ageing with growing strictness.
Labels additionally reveal Sekt’s sweetness stage. Wines labeled herb (equal to “brut” in Champagne) include little to no sugar, whereas trocken (“dry”) wines generally is 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 typically expressed in French phrases like “brut,” or English phrases like “dry,” particularly in wines meant for vast export.
Sekt to attempt to really helpful pairings
To get began with Sekt this spring, you received’t must spend far more than the worth of a tragic desk lunch. Austrian winemaker Szigeti produces a dry, bottle-fermented Klassik constructed from Grüner Veltliner grown within the Neusidlersee area. The bottle I picked up final week—for about $20, the candy spot for a bunch reward—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 title 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 possibly can pair this brightly acidic, citrusy wine with one thing equally acidic, like strawberries, cherries, or a inexperienced salad with French dressing.
For rosé lovers trying 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 tremendous bubbles and notes of strawberry, raspberry, and toast. It’s constructed 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 tender, fatty cheese like Limburger.
Have you ever tried Sekt? What do you wish to drink with it?