Where is your bubbly from?
Who doesn’t love a glass filled with bubbles? Shimmery wine with carbon dioxide trapped in it.
One way to divide into categories is through the geographic region they are produced.
In France, we have Champagne of course, the king of all the sparklers out there. Champagne is with a capital C, because it is produced in the region of Champagne in France. Champagne is produced from three main grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier grapes and has a dry, complex flavour. It is produced in both vintage and non-vintage versions. Champagne also tends to have smaller bubbles than sparkling wine. Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Perignon (1638-1715) founded many principles and processes for the Champagne production that are still used till today. Rumour has it that while drinking the bubbly queen he said: “I am drinking stars”.
There is also another sparkling wine produced in France called Cremant.
In Italy two kinds of white sparkling wine are produced: “Asti” (spumante) and Prosecco. There is also a red sparkling wine called Lambrusco.
Prosecco: Italian prosecco is light, white and fresh wine. It is dry, Brut with aromatics and lively flavour profile leaning heavily into citrus, apples, pears, melon and floral nature. The main difference between a prosecco and champagne is the different process the second fermentation undergoes. Prosecco undergoes this process in a big stainless steel tank instead of the traditional method of Champagne that is done in the bottle. This is called the charmat method. It is actually a more efficient method that makes it so affordable to the consumer. Prosecco appeals more to value-minded consumers as it is a value for money alternative to Champagne. It is often paired with appetizers, prosciutto and melon. It became popular with the financial crisis of 2008 when everyone looked for a cheaper alternative of Champagne. It is divided into Doc and Docg. The latter is considered of higher quality. Although there is actually a Prosecco that undergoes the fermentation same as Champagne; and that would be the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Docg.
However, not all Prosecco is bubbly. The spumante is the bubbliest, and then the frizzante follows being medium and last comes the tranquilo which isn’t bubbly at all.
Asti: A sweeter sparkly alternative comes from the moscato grape usually from the region of Piedmont in Northern Italy. You can taste apple juice flavors, ripe peach, candied orange, lemon zest, and an entire florist shop into the glass.
Lambrusco: This is a dry red sparkling wine made from lambrusco grapes around the regions of Modena, Parma, Reggio nell’Emilia, and Mantua
Spain produces its own “Champagne” called Cava which indeed undergoes the second fermentation with the Champagne method. It was actually promoted as the Spanish champagne in the past, but it is no longer legal. It is produced in Catalonia, it has a light to medium-bodied profile, ranges from dry to off-dry and has a food friendly acidity. It’s great as a summer sipper and it is value priced. It usually has almond notes with citrus or/and apple additions with mineral driven nuances.
USA surprisingly produces its own champagne but with a small “c” and it is required that the geographic origin must be listed. They also produce another French sparkling wine in Loire Valley called “cremant”. American sparkling wine is also known as new world sparkling wine (California).
English fizz is a thing and it actually becomes more and more popular. It is a high quality sparkler fermented with the labour intensive Champagne method which results in a high quality proper sparkling wine. Soon the English sparkling wine may be called “Sussex” due to the PDO (protected destination of origin status) status.
Sekt: This sparkler is sweeter and lower in alcohol than Champagne and other sparklers. The alcohol content is around 6% and the taste is rather fruity with aromas of apples, pears and white flowers. Pairs well with brie. The fermentation method could be either Charmat or Champenoise. After the treaty of Versailles in 1919, Germany was forbidden to call Sect “Champagne”.
We love all the bubbles!