By: Angela Aiello
Nothing says happiness quite like a glass of sparkling wine. Although it is often associated with celebrations and special events, bubbly really needs no occasion to enjoy. It looks elegant, is delicious on its own and with food, and always brings a smile! Planning a wedding and need to know the difference to splurge or save? This mini guide to sparkling wine will help!
Sparkling wine is made all over the world and called by many names, so committing them to memory is important! Cava is the most sparkling wine from Spain. Champagne is a region in France and only bubbly from that specific region can be called by that name. Most other regions in France call their bubbly Crement, for example Crement du Bordeaux and Crement d’Alsace. In Italy, you will recognize the names Spumante, Asti and Prosecco as sparkling wine – Asti being sweet, and Prosecco as their most well known sparkling. The Germans call their bubbly Sekt and you’ve probably sipped on other sparkling wines from around the world called Cuvee or Brut.
‘Méthode Champenoise’ is the traditional method of making sparkling wine where the secondary fermentation happens in the bottle. It is the most widely known style of quality sparkling wine production, resulting in a wine that has smaller bubbles and ages very well in a cellar if made from a vintage year. It is also the most time consuming process, as bottles need to be kept for long periods of time and cared for with much attention.
Under the ‘Charmat’ method, the secondary fermentation happens in tanks and the wine is bottled under pressure. These sparkling wines, such as Prosecco, have larger bubbles and offer good value to your pocket book.
Most traditionally made sparkling wine is produced with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes, but you can really add bubbles to any wine and use any grape. The grape varieties in sparkling wine are not typically listed on the bottle, so learning about the practices in each region is important to understanding the world of sparkling. If a sparkling wine is made 100% from Chardonnay is can be called a “Blanc de Blanc” (translating to white of white), and if made from 100% Pinot Noir it’s called “Blanc de Noir” (meaning white of red).
What’s Your Style?
Sparkling wines come in a variety of styles, from light and fruity, to medium-bodied with amazing flavours, or rich and complex. Learning your preferences is a great way to define your bubbly personality! When pairing sparkling wine with food, always match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. Sparkling wine can vary in sweetness from dry (Brut) to sweet. All traditionally made sparkling wine is fermented dry. But, don’t let the word dry on the label fool you, if the word dry is on the label (instead of brut) often the wine will be sweeter than you expect.
What’s a Vintage?
If there is a year noted on the bottle of wine, then all of the grapes were harvested from that year and used in the bottle (very rare for sparkling wine). Otherwise, grapes from several years are blended together to create a certain taste profile.