As hard as it may be for some of us to believe, the holiday party season already looms large on the horizon. With that in mind, now would be a good time to lay in a case or two of Ferrari Brut, an outstanding nonvintage sparkling wine from Italy's Trentino region in the foothills of the Alps. At about $16 to $20 a bottle at some bay area big-box stores and wine shops, it's a steal.
This very Champagne-like blanc de blancs is 100 percent chardonnay. The similarities to the French sparkler begin with a toasty, yeasty nose lightly scented with lemon and continue on the tongue. The mouthfeel is rich and heady, the bubbles frisky and persistent and the flavors complex, dominated by toast and subtle fruit with just a dash of vanilla. A smidge of white peach is evident at the end of a long, clean, lingering finish.
The bottom line: Ferrari Brut is the quintessential party beverage, drinking delightfully with light or heavy hors d'oeuvres at the cocktail hour, as an aperitif before a more formal sit-down dinner or with a cheese course (especially aromatic soft-ripened cheeses) after. It also will pair well with dishes as diverse as creamy fettucine alfredo, rosemary-scented pork roast or a spicy shrimp curry.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.