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Review: Mumm NV Blanc de Noir

champagne
 

"I've had this wine before!" says a friend, savoring the pale salmon sparkling wine during a New Year's brunch. "Was it at the Ritz-Carlton? The Peninsula hotel in L.A.? It was someplace posh ..."

When the subject of the conversation is Mumm's popular NV Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, "posh" is a word that comes easily to mind. Perhaps it is the seductive pale salmon color of this sparkler, or the appetizing aroma of grilled bread, ripening apples, and buttery croissant that aficionados find so agreeable. Or the way it matches so well with savory dishes, especially during brunch or a formal luncheon. Either way, this is a popular go-to wine when you need to find a delicious, attractive looking sparkler to pair with a menu you created, or choose from a restaurant's wine list.

Mumm's Blanc de Noir was my first introduction to the flirtatious Noir world at the tender age of twenty-three. I spotted the sparkler listed on a Ritz-Carlton menu, and in those innocent pre-wine diploma days, the "de Noir" name was as provocative as its racy berry color and deeper, richer, darker, and more structured mouthfeel. It looked and tasted more "dangerous" than the white sparklers I had experienced. Just as is the case in a film noir (I was an executive at MGM at the time), I saw the white-colored sparklers as the typical innocent blonde - safe and virginal. With my first sip, the Mumm's Blanc de Noir seemed the sultry brunette - dark and much more exciting.

Flash forwarding to 2009, I continue to find Mumm's Blanc de Noir very exciting. True, I have experienced the most expensive champagnes in the world, yet this specific wine is always my go-to wine when I see it on a menu or when I am planning a formal lunch or dinner. Why? I really enjoy the mouthful, especially the wine's weight and balance. I find it a very superior food wine, though matching the wine with the right kind of food is key.

Let us take brunch as an example. Mumm's Blanc de Noir would be fantastic with a mushroom omelet, a mushroom infused quiche, or even French Toast with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. The pretty pale salmon color looks quite appetizing in a champagne flute, and the subtle tannins from the brief contact with the Pinot Noir grape (which gives the wine its color) give the wine substance and structure.

If you visit a Ritz-Carlton or other upscale hotel during teatime, Mumm's Blanc de Noir is again an excellent choice to pair with the many savory dishes served during this hour on a three-tier silver platter. And think how fashionable you will look holding a glass that boasts a dramatic salmon tint.

Of course, Blanc de Noir is also the perfect aperitif before dinner as it stimulates the appetite and pairs well with a wide variety of hors d'oeurvres. Many people increasingly sip sparklers through every course at dinner, yet my personal opinion is that sparklers are best served during the cocktail hour, paired with a savory starter, and served again during dessert.

Yet beyond all else, what I love about Mumm's Blanc de Noir is what it says about the person who orders it - especially if their guest has never seen a non-white sparkler before. It positions the host as worldly, deep - and yes, a bit dangerous.

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