Celebrate With Bubbly at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festivalby Donna Fesel, contributing writer
There is just something about a glass of bubbly wine that is both celebratory and indulgent. The pop of the cork, the overflowing foam, the bubbles bouncing—all signals that you are about to enjoy something special. What better time to experience some luxurious bubbly than while you sample the tasty treats at Food and Wine?
This year, as in years past, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival features an assortment of bubbly from around the world with something for everyone. Something fruity from Canada? Something unique from France? Done. Don't be shy if you are struggling with the pronunciation of "Moet & Chandon" (it's "MOH-WAY"), don't know a Kir Royale from a Bellini, or are not sure which glass would be best with that dessert you're eyeing.
First things first: Did you know it's not all "champagne"? A bubbly is only champagne if it is made in the Champagne region of France using a specific method where the bubbles are naturally produced in the bottle. The Food and Wine Festival features a festival marketplace devoted to champagne, called appropriately, "Desserts & Champagne" (more on that in a bit). Les Vins des Chefs de France, the year-round kiosk near France in World Showcase, also features champagne.
Any type of bubbly that is not champagne is a "sparkling wine" or a specific region's version of sparkling wine. For example, Prosecco is a type of sparkling wine from Italy. That said, at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and nearly anywhere else, if you order "champagne" and it's not technically champagne, you're fine. You will be served whatever sparkling wine is available—with a smile.
Like all wines, sparkling wines range in sweetness:
- Extra Brut – most dry
- Brut – dry
- Extra Dry – extra dry (it may not make sense, but this is less dry than Brut)
- Sec – slightly sweet
- Demi-Sec – most sweet
A drier wine you may have tried is Chardonnay, while a Riesling or White Zinfandel is sweeter and on the other end of the spectrum. If sweetness is important to you, a great question to ask is, "Is it drier or sweeter"? In World Showcase, Italy's gelato kiosk features a drier bubbly Prosecco, and a sweeter Corbinelli. Both are delicious, but very different.
You may also notice terms like "vintage" (grapes from one year only) or "reserve" (the winemaker has designated the bubbly special in some way). These designations typically indicate an increased price and more prestige, but do not necessarily indicate a more delicious glass of bubbly because what you like is unique to you. I've had vintage champagne that I enjoyed, but I also had an inexpensive glass of Prosecco made in the basement of the restaurant I ate in on my honeymoon that knocked my socks off.
Bubbly may be enjoyed all by its lonesome in a glass, or it may be used as a mixer to create an entirely new cocktail. For example, at Food and Wine, the Morocco Marketplace offers a Mimosa Royale, a bubbly with orange juice and orange liqeur added.
One last bit of fun information. Why the unique shape of a sparkling wine glass? Food & Wine serves bubbly in a classic flute-shaped glass. The flute-shaped glass with a deep, narrow body and long stem lets you hold the glass without warming the bubbly, while the shape maintains and displays the bubbles.
Bubbly offerings at Food and Wine Festival Marketplaces
In walking order:
Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut – This drier Argentinian wine is made from 100 percent chardonnay grapes and was refreshing with the grilled beef skewer and chimichurri featured.
Bosco del Merlo – This Prosecco is a great sparkler for summertime. Perfect with the spicy hand roll I picked up at the Japan Marketplace. It was refreshing, but did not overwhelm the spicy flavors of the roll. Also, check out Italy's gelato stand, which offers:
- The world-famous Bellini – featuring Prosecco and peach puree
- Corbinello – a sweet, red sparkler perfect with the Chocolate-covered Cannoli offered at the Italy Marketplace
- Fior D'Arancio – an orange-tinged sweet sparkler, and a straight-up Prosecco
I am a sushi lover, and this Spicy Hand Roll rocks. The ginger is so fresh and set off the Prosecco so nicely. Photo by Donna Fesel.
Block & Hans
Domaine Chandon Brut Sparkling Blanc de Noir – I love the Domaine Chandon line of sparkling wines, they are affordable, versatile and impressive. Several years ago we went wine tasting in Napa; our favorite spot was Domaine Chandon. The place is beautiful, the wines are delicious, and everyone from kids (who get sparkling grape juice) to adults are treated like royalty.
Mimosa Royale – This drink is a delicious concoction of bubbly and orange juices and flavors. It reminded me of my favorite soda—Orangina.
Carnaval Moscato – This Brazilian white wine from the moscato grape is low in alcohol, high in fizz, a bit sweet and features cherry and peach flavors. I enjoyed this with a piece of the Brazilian Cheese Bread and the delicious featured Pork Belly with Black Beans. The bit of sweet fizz lightened up both these treats.
I love these Brazilian snacks with the Moscato. Photo by Donna Fesel.
Sparkling Pomegranate Kir – A combination of champagne and pomegranate liqueur, was another lovely drink I'd sip on its own. Also stop by Les Vins Des Chefs de France—featuring Champagne Nicolas Feuillate (a brut), or add some crème de cassis for a currant flavored Kir Royale. I love the Sparkling Pomegranate Kir, and enjoyed mine on this trip with the delicious tartelette aux escargots (a garlicky tart with plump little snails, spinach, bacon and parmesan).
I adore this sweet tart Kir Royale. Photo by Donna Fesel.
If you have never had escargot before—this is the way to try it, they are tasty and buried under so much goodness you won't even know you're eating them. I popped into the wine store in the France marketplace and there is wine tasting happening in there now too. I saw some sparklers, but couldn't fit them in on this trip.
The Kir is wonderful paired with this tartelette aux escargots (those are snails, people). Photo by Donna Fesel.
La Face Neige Apple Ice Wine and La Face Neige Sparkling – As an upstate New Yorker, I am a frequent visitor to Quebec and am familiar with these uniquely delicious Canadian bubblies. Neige (which is French for "snow") is a sparkling ice wine. I'm a huge fan of the Apple Ice Wine; it tastes like the most delicious apple ever. The chill is so refreshing in the scorching Florida heat.
Desserts and Champagne
- Ruinart Blanc de Blanc (made entirely of Chardonnay grapes) was crisp and clean, perfect with the passion fruit coconut Creamsicle dessert featured.
- Dom Perignon (at $32 per glass—the Cadillac of bubblies at Food and Wine). I took a pass on this trip, but have had Dom once in a great while on very special occasions and it is crisp and wonderful.
- Nicolas Feuillatte Rose (more body than the "white" champagnes). One of my favorites, great with creamy cheeses.
- Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial. A warmer flavor; I stole a sip from my buddy and enjoyed it with the chocolate truffles.
We sampled the Ruinart Blanc de Blanc and Nicolas Feuillatte Rose. Photo by Donna Fesel.
Martini Prosecco (the affordable and delicious Italian sweet classic), Caposaldo Sweet Sparkling Peach Moscato (a tasty, peachy, sweet Italian from the Lombardy region), and Iron Horse Fairytale Cuvee. The Iron Horse (from California's Sonoma Valley) is available only at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line and ordered directly through Iron Horse. It was delicious with the key lime tart offered. The bubbles cut the heaviness of the filing and the citrus was a nice compliment to the fruitiness of the cuvee.
Also a non-Food & Wine bubbly shout out—my buddy and I stayed Club Level at the Concierge, and after my long day of travel, I was greeted by the Yacht Club Concierge with a the Yacht Club official welcome drink: sparkling wine with a little strawberry puree. How appropriate for the trip that generated this column, and what a wonderful way to officially start a vacation.
I'll leave you with some unsolicited advice. There is a lot of bubbly at Food & Wine to sample. Bring a friend (thanks, Jered), and pace your sampling out over your entire visit, as these wonderful indulgences are meant to be savored. Cheers!
We really enjoyed the La Face Neige Apple Ice Wine and Caposaldo Sweet Sparkling Peach Moscato. The Peach was our favorite of all but the Apple almost made it a tie.
I think that one of the really great things about Food & Wine is that it makes trying new foods and drinks so approachable and accessible. Since the portions are tasting size - with prices mostly to match, I tend to be more adventurous that I might be when dining out at home - it is just much less intimidating. Thanks for reading the article and for your comment! - Donna