My most recent quest for good eats (and in this case fine drinks) took me and my friends Heidi and Kelley to Middlebury, Vermont to a wine and champagne bar!
We had heard about Sparkling from our friend Tessa, about how much she loves it there, how fun and charming a place it is. Anxious to check it out for ourselves we piled in the car after work one Friday and made the near hour-long journey: a ways to go for a drink, but it actually provided us with a lot of end-of-work-week debriefing and venting time. And we knew the drive would be worth it!
Sparkling is a sweet little spot in downtown Middlebury nestled near a bakery, a café, a pub and close to the Middlebury College campus. Just over Otter Creek and through the rotary onto College Street, we came upon a tiny, Gothic revival house with a long, windowed porch. It is perched at the edge of the sidewalk, and on that late fall afternoon the soft lights glowed from inside the tiny space.
Once inside we quickly found Nancy Weber-Curth, owner of Sparkling. She was so sweet, and very pleased to hear that had made the special trip to visit. We talked with her about our plans to have a drink there and then do some early holiday shopping.
We were surprised to hear that the downtown shops in Middlebury would likely all be closed by 5:30! That’s quaint Vermont for you. But while the rest of the downtown was closing up shop for the night, Nancy and Sparkling were just getting started.
The bar opens at 4:00 pm, and though the posted hours say closing is at 10:00, Nancy told us she often encourages folks to stay into the wee hours, continue the laughter and conversations, and to have another glass.
Sure enough though there was only one other person there when we arrived just after opening, the place was filled by the time we left. And it was easy to see that Nancy was really in her element, moving from table to table in the cozy space, chatting with everyone, enthusiastically talking about the offerings on her menu, why she chose them, and where they’re from.
Though I will always happily have a glass, I am not at all an aficionado of wines or bubbly and I really relied on Nancy’s recommendations.
The menu at Sparkling holds a couple dozen selections of champagnes and sparkling wines, by the glass or bottle. The day we were there a special tasting menu was available, and she was particularly eager to tell us about the Sparkling Nebbiolo Rosé from Erpacrife Winemakers in the Cuneo province of Italy. I learned that Nebbiolo wines are not traditionally sparkling.
However these winemakers, four friends who met at a college of oenology, had experimented and perfected their Nebbiolo to create this acclaimed variety. Nancy had her eye on this pricey wine for a couple of years before she decided to take the plunge and purchase it to share with her customers. Since I am not a connoisseur of wines, if on my own I had seen this Erpacrife Nebbiolo Rosé on a menu at $90 a bottle I would have assumed it was a very lovely and unique bubbly but certainly would not have been able to try it. However, on the tasting menu at Sparkling, a glass for just $9.00 was perfect!
This encapsulates Nancy’s endeavor: to bring these wines and champagnes to her customers, varieties they may not know of or otherwise have the opportunity to try. And to say that you don’t have to wait for a special event to try a great sparkling drink. We really enjoyed ours! We had our glasses of the crisp, fruity rosé with small plates of local cheeses with crackers. (Chocolates are also available!)
Nancy shared that she has always been fascinated with the chemistry and science of winemaking. In her travels here and abroad she seeks out smaller, locally owned vineyards who have unique, special champagnes and sparkling wines. With this passion and what is clearly her sheer enjoyment of entertaining and hosting, she has created a warm and welcoming retreat for her customers and an enviably fulfilling career for herself.
Sparkling Champagne & Wine Bar is open Wednesday through Saturdays and is located at 56 College Street in Middlebury, VT. Visit their website at SparklingVT.com and join their email list to hear about special tasting events. Get to Middlebury early to do your shopping (bookstores, clothing boutiques, gift shops, antiques) then head to Sparkling to relax with a glass of bubbly. And tell Nancy we say hi!
Here are some other Delectable Destinations that I have been lucky enough to visit: