Wine 101 (Pt.3): What makes Sparkling Wine so Great?


Sparkling wine is the epitome of a special occasion. From weddings to graduations, people are always poppin’ the bubbly. There are so many things that make sparkling wine great for celebrations - from the liveliness it gives from the sugar and bubbles to the excitement of having wine burst out of the bottle after the cork pops off. Sparkling wine comes in many varieties like Champagne and styles like brut. As well, most sparkling wines are white wines, but some can also be red and rosé wines. I’m so excited to talk to you about the things that make sparkling wine great, so let's get to it!

Styles of Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wines range on a scale of dryness and sweetness. You may have noticed the word “brut” on sparkling wine labels. Brut is one of the styles of sparkling wine. See the infographic below for an easy guide to the range of styles.


Infographic from glassofbubbly.com

Varieties of Sparkling Wine

There are many varieties of sparkling wine, so here's a quick breakdown:


  1. There are simply just “sparkling wines” available. Those are white wines. You’ll see a style like “brut” on the label as well.

  2. There are red and rosé sparkling wines. However, sometimes the sparkling factor is not prominent on the label because it's considered more of a red or rosé wine. If you see a style of sparkling wine on the label under the primary grape variety, then it's a sparkling wine (like the image below).

  3. Wines like Prosecco and Champagne are sparkling wines made in particular regions that have the legal rights to that name.

Now, I’ll get into my favourite part that I learned during my time in Bordeaux, France – the sparkling wine regions.


Image from winefolly.com

Champagne

Champagne is a region in France, east of Paris. That's the only place in the world that can produce Champagne wine. Champagne is a sparkling white wine, specifically a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. It is light-bodied, semi-sweet, and crisp. As well, it has high acidity because of the loads of carbonation in the bottle. Champagne carries notes of yellow apple, citrus, cream, toast, and minerals.

I’ve heard people say this a couple of times “do you want Champagne from Champagne or Champagne sparkling wine?”. I'm not sure if you’ve heard this, but let me clarify - if the wine does not come from the Champagne region in France, it is NOT Champagne. This is a sparkling wine in its own class – just look at the price. What is unique about Champagne from other sparkling wines is that:


  1. There is so much carbonation in it that it will cause the cork to make a very loud pop and make the wine explode out of the bottle without you having to shake it.

  2. It’s highly marketable. I’m sure you’ve seen ads of sports teams and Monte Carlo casino players celebrating with bottles of Champagne. Champagne has become a symbol of celebration, victory, and wealth through marketing.

  3. All the Champagne grapes are hand-picked, not machine-picked. As well, Champagne is made in a particular way called the Methode Champenoise. So the whole production of Champagne is very specific.


Because of these unique qualities, Champagne is expensive and the price difference between Champagne and other sparkling wines is justified. If you’re trying to decide whether to get sparkling wine or Champagne, remember what I’ve said here and choose the most suitable one for your occasion.


Prosecco

Prosecco is a light-bodied sparkling white wine, made in the Prosecco region in eastern Italy. It is sweeter, less dry and less carbonated than Champagne. The Glera grape is used to make this wine, which carries notes of white flowers, cream, green apple, honeydew, and pear. This is one of my favourite wines because it’s simple in flavour, satisfies my sweet tooth, and has a premium name for less than half the cost of Champagne. If you get it, be sure to get La Marca Prosecco.


There are Italian classifications for Prosecco to show that they are made of a certain quality standard, the main ones being DOC and DOCG. DOC is the basic Prosecco and DOCG is a higher grade Prosecco.

Cava

Cava is the Spanish sparkling wine and the region is located in the Catalonian area. Cava wine is a blend of Xarello, Macabeu, and Parellada (all white grapes). It’s similar to the former wines in that it’s a premium sparkling wine that is light, acidic, and dry. However, it has fewer calories and uses the same production method as Champagne for the same price as Prosecco. As well, many Cavas are aged longer than Champagnes.

Cava has floral, citrus and tart flavours - carrying notes of lime, yellow apple, chamomile, quince, minerals, and almonds. Although Cava is not widely known as Prosecco and Champagne, it's a great deal for high-quality wine.

I hope this blog post has made you excited for your next celebration or special occasion (P.S. Easter is coming up this weekend), so you can rationale buying a bottle of sparkling wine.


Sparkling wine is a huge topic in itself, so if you would like me to write more about it, give this blog a like and let me know in the comments what else you want to know about it. Thanks for reading, cheers!


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