There’s no doubt that there is a certain cachet surrounding sparkling wines. Wines with bubbles are fun and lively and remind us of special moments in life. As I always think of wines as a simple luxury in life, wines with bubbles up the ante a bit more.
Here is a break down of sparkling wines to better help the category:
Champagne: This is a very popular sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. The “Champagne method” calls for the secondary fermentation of the wine to take place in each individual bottle to create carbonation. The primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier (two red grapes), and Chardonnay (one white grape). Champagne can come in white or rose and using several different variations of those three grapes. Only sparkling wines from Champagne, France can be called Champagne. Anything else is “sparkling wine.” This was the beverage of choice for royalty in the 17th, 18th and 19th century and is why some of the prestige and cachet of sparkling wine still exists today.
Prosecco: Prosecco is a light and easy sparkling white wine that comes in either a dry or extra dry wine and made from Glera grape in Northern Italy. Today, you can find rose versions of prosecco too. Prosecco usually is produced using the Charmat method, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and then bottled. That makes the wine less expensive to produce and very palatable and approachable. Prosecco is fairly inexpensive and is also a great sparkling wine to use when making sparkling wine cocktails like a Mimosa, Bellini or to top off a flavored martini.
Cava: This is a lovely sparkling wine that comes from Catalonia, Spain. It may be white (blanco) or rosé (rosado). Cava uses the Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes, indigenous to Spain. The Catalan word cava means cave or cellar. Caves were used in the early days of cava production for the preservation or aging of wine. Catalan winemakers officially adopted the term in 1970 to distinguish their product from French champagne. Cava wines are made in the “Champagne method,” but can be purchased at the fraction of the price of champagne.
Sparkling Moscato: Moscato originally comes from Piedmont, Italy. It is a semi-sweet, lightly sparkling, low-alcohol wine. As the name implies, it is made from Moscato Bianco grapes grown in vineyards near the town of Asti. However, you can find variations of this wine from Spain, France and the United States. The characteristic notes on the nose are floral aromas and hints of peach, apricot and honey. It is one of Italy’s most famous and most popular wines. This wine, of course, comes in a still version as well.
Lambrusco: This is another Italian sparkling wine, but it comes in a red (yes, red), rose or white form using the Lambrusco grape from Emilia-Romagna and one in Lombardy. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, sweet Lambrusco was the biggest selling import wine in the United States. It is very fun to drink in the summer or special occasions with hard and soft cheeses and cured meats.
Sparkling Shiraz: This is another interesting sparkling wine that happens to be a red, sparkling wine. It is made in the same way as Champagne – that is, bottle fermented, aged on lees, and left to develop in the bottle. It used the Shiraz/Syrah grape in Australia. This wine features a very different set of aromas from the previous wines like the smell of blackcurrants, blackberries, chocolate, cherries, strawberries and more. It’s frothy and has a purple hue. The palate features powerful fruit. It’s a dry sparkling, but it is fruit forward with nice acidity and tannin structure. On the finish, you’ll find hints of berries, mushroom, spice, cherries and pepper.
Hopefully one of these options – or any other sparkling wine from throughout the world – will strike your fancy.