It doesn’t matter if it’s your birthday or a regular brunch, bubbles are always needed. They make any day extra special. Whether it’s the sparkle, the taste, or merely the association with parties and celebrations, sparkling wine is always welcomed. Not all sparkling wine, however, is made equal. You might think that champagne is at the top of the list, and Moët is the only true way to go, but you might be surprised. There are many other great wines that are made using the same method!
Every true foodie should know their bubbles. Use this quick guide to know the basics of sparkling wine, so you can pair a bit of sparkle to your day:
Champagne is a sparkling wine exclusively made in the Champagne region in France. Champagne wines first gained notoriety when they became a popular favourite amongst the French aristocracy in the Middle Ages. Champagnes are made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.
In Spain, sparkling wines made using the same classic method as champagne are called Cava. There is also Crémant, Sekt, and others around the world. The difference between these wines is found in the grapes used and the length of the second fermentation. Cava, for instance, use Macabeu, Parellada and Xarello grapes.
Every Briton has heard of Prosecco by now. There was even a threat of a Prosecco shortage back in 2016! This Italian bubbly favourite is made differently than those made through the traditional method. For Prosecco, the second fermentation process takes place in steel enamel-coated tanks (instead of bottles). The bubbles are more dramatic. Prosecco is also made with only one grape, Glera.
English Sparkling Wine
Over the last few years English sparkling wine has started to make a name for itself with many producers winning awards and some even beating Champagnes in blind tastings. With climates in the south of England becoming ever warmer the ability to produce a high quality bubbly means that the British are able to enjoy a home grown glass of fizz.
To further complicate things, there are many kinds of sparkling wines regarding sweetness. Look for these indicators on the label to know what kind of sparkling wine you’re getting:
The driest sparkling wine is known as “brut” however there are many different kinds. There are:
- Extra/Ultra/Natural: the driest sparkling wine you can get. There is no added sugar.
- Brut: Though there was sugar added during the fermentation process, it should not taste perceptively sweet.
Though it might sound confusing, mildly sweet sparkling wines will be labelled with either the word “sec” meaning dry, on the label.
- Extra Sec/Extra Dry: Mildly sweet sparkling wine.
- Demi-Sec: the second sweetest sparkling wine you can have.
- Doux is the sweetest sparkling wine you can get and has had the most sugar added to it.
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