Enter the world of sparkling wines, where every taste is like a party in a glass. This article delves into the wide world of bubbly treats, ranging from the classic elegance of Champagne to the lively sparkle of Prosecco and the crisp allure of Cava. Learn about the distinctive qualities that characterize each kind, from the grape varietals that tantalize your taste buds to the particular winemaking techniques that produce those alluring bubbles. Join us on a voyage into the world of sparkling wine, where every pop of the cork is an invitation to savor the artistry of fizz, whether you’re an experienced wine enthusiast or a curious newbie.
Champagne is probably the most well-known type of sparkling wine. It’s made in the Champagne region of France, which is why it’s called Champagne. The grapes used in Champagne are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. You make this wine using the Champagne method, which means that a second fermentation creates the carbonation in the bottle. Champagne is usually dry, with a creamy texture and yeasty flavor, and it pairs well with cheese, oysters, and fried foods. I am a big fan of the dry, crisp finish of Champagne. Champagne is often used in cocktails like mimosas and other spritzers.
Spain produces all Cava sparkling wine. The grapes used in Cava are Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo. It can come in white (blanco) or rose (rosado). Catalonia, Spain, produces about 95% of all Cava. Several significant producers can trace their history back hundreds of years. You make Cava using the Champagne method, meaning that the carbonation comes from a second fermentation in the bottle. Cava is usually dry, with fruity flavors and a yeasty aroma. It pairs well with seafood, poultry, and light pasta dishes. I also appreciate Cava for its dry finish.
Italy produces all Prosecco sparkling wine. Production is spread amongst the two regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. The wine is named after the small village of Prosecco. The grape used in Prosecco is the Prosecco grape. However, the European Union renamed this grape the Glera grape in 2009. It comes in both white and rose varieties. You make Prosecco using the Charmat method, which means you ferment the wine in a large tank and add the carbonation before bottling. Prosecco is usually sweet, with fruity flavors and a light body. It pairs well with fruit, desserts, and light appetizers.
Sekt is a type of sparkling wine produced in Germany. You make the vast majority of Sekt using the Charmat method. The grapes used in Sekt can be any grape, but the most common are Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, and Silvaner. In Germany, you cannot label sparkling wine produced with CO2 injection as sparkling wine. Instead, it must be labeled Schaumwein or foam wine. So if you are in Germany, keep an eye out for the different labels. Sekt can be sweet, off-dry, or dry. It has a light body and pairs well with appetizers and desserts. I find that the sweetness of Sekt makes it a good choice for pairing with fruit.
Crémant means creamy and refers to types of sparkling wine that have less carbon dioxide and are less fizzy. These sparkling wines have a more smooth mouth feel than other sparkling wines. France produces Crémant, but the production is not limited to one region. The grapes used in Crémant are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. You make Crémant using the traditional method, meaning that a second fermentation creates the carbonation in the bottle. Crémant can be dry or sweet but is usually off-dry. It has a light to medium body and pairs well with poultry, fish, and salads. I love how drinkable Crémant is. It is just easier to drink several glasses of Crémant than other sparkling wines.
Espumante is a sparkling wine produced in Portugal. This sparkling wine is produced throughout Portugal, and as a result, the grapes and the sparkling wine have a wider variety of tastes and flavors. The most common grapes used in Espumante are Bical, Arinto, and Maria Gomes. These grapes are used to produce both white varieties and rose varieties of Espumante. You make Espumante using the Charmat method, which means you ferment the wine in a large tank and add carbonation before bottling. Espumante can be dry or sweet but is usually off-dry. It has a light to medium body and pairs well with poultry, fish, and salads. I find that the sweetness of Espumante makes it a good choice for pairing with fruit. What I love about Espumante is its variety. Other types of sparkling wines are strictly regulated and end up being quite similar in taste. Since you can make Espumante in various climates, bottles from different vineyards can be quite different. This variety adds a level of excitement to opening a bottle of Espumante.
Rosé is the perfect drink on a hot summer day, and sparkling Rosé is the ideal drink for a summer celebration. You make sparkling Rosé with red grapes, but you remove the skins before fermentation, which is why the wine is pink. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier are the three most common grapes used to produce sparkling Rosé. You make Sparkling Rosé using the traditional method, which means that a second fermentation creates carbonation in the bottle. Sparkling Rosé is usually off-dry with fruity flavors. It has a light body and pairs well with light appetizers and desserts.