Sparkling ascendant

Sales of table wine in the United States essentially are flat after a sustained boom. The latest figures available show wine sales grew by only .02 percent in 2017.

There are, however, footnotes to those numbers. While folks are not buying more wine, they are buying more expensive wine. And they are buying different wine, especially sparkling.

Sparkling sales increased three percent in 2017, the tenth straight year of growth. From 2008 to 2017, sparkling sales increased a whopping 51.1 percent, according to Impact Database, a publication of the leading wine magazine, Wine Spectator.

Proscecco from northeastern Italy is the leader in the sparkling ascendance. In 2007, prosecco sold fewer than 500,000 cases in the U.S. By 2017, the number bubbled to 5.3 million cases. La Marca, the top-selling U.S. brand, sold 1.9 million cases, almost as much as all Champagne brands combined. Topsy-turvy news.

For decades sparkling meant Champagne, and Champagne meant special occasions. A decade ago, I would be writing about sparkling wine choices only for June weddings and New Year celebrations. Not today.

Millennials and all the others who joined the wine boom figured out sparkling wine was a superb food wine that pairs with almost anything. Weddings, sure, but also on Tuesday night, Saturday’s party, Sunday’s brunch, don’t forget mimosas. With rise of prosecco and non-Champagne bargains from Spain and California, sparkling was recognized as extremely versatile and priced the same as affordable still wines and at a fraction of Champagne’s cost.

You may toast with bubbly, maybe Champagne, at a June wedding this month. You also likely will enjoy it at much less euphoric events. Pop that cork.

Tasting notes:

• La Marca Prosecco DOC NV: Pleases with balance of fruitiness, whisper of sweetness, brisk acidity. Wonderfully refreshing, subdued alcohol—can be enjoy any time of day. $13-14 Link to my review

• Bacio della Luna Prosecco Brut NV: Non-wine drinkers will enjoy, making it marvelously versatile. $14-16 Link to my review

• Fagher Le Colture Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut DOCG: Quality prosecco; competes with more expensive Champagne. $16 Link to my review

• Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs Sparkling NV: Fun easy drinker without the austerity of a brut or drier sparkling. $18-25 Link to my review

Last round: My head says it is late spring, work in the yard and cut the grass. My heart and the rest of my body says drink wine. My dilemma: a crisp white or a nice sparkling to get my head to shut up.