June is a month that is always ripe with celebration. Whether it’s a graduation in the family, a wedding, or just celebrating the start of summer, there always seems to be Champagne bottles popping in the background. Or is it sparkling wine? Frankly, both can have the same effect, but they are very different. Who really even knows the difference? Let’s get to the bottom of it.
Here’s the easy answer:
Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France, which is just outside of Paris. Champagne can also only be made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. Essentially: Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Think of Champagne in terms of a geographical location as opposed to a winemaking style.
So, How Do They get the Bubbles?
Sparkling wine is made by taking the formula for fermentation (sugar + yeast = alcohol and CO2), and not allowing the resulting gas to escape. When wine is fermented in a closed or sealed environment, and the gas from the fermentation doesn’t escape, the CO2 returns into the wine, and is released in the form of tiny bubbles after opening the bottle.
A Few Types of Sparkling Wine:
- Cava – In Spain, Cava is made in many different styles. Cava is made using mainly four different grapes: Parellada, Xarelo, Macabello or Chardonnay. The best examples have small bubbles and balance freshness with creaminess.
- Prosecco – Sparkling wines made from the Glera grape grown in the Prosecco region of Italy are called Prosecco. These wines are made using a tank method which is when carbon dioxide is infused in the wine, much like a carbonated soda. Prosecco tends to have larger bubbles, making them better for cocktails.
- Sekt – In Austria and Germany, they call sparkling wines Sekt, pronounced ‘zekt.’
- Cremant – France is known for its Champagne, in which the fermentation occurs inside each bottle. Additionally, wines of the same traditional ‘methode champenoise’ are produced in other regions of the country and are called Cremant.
- Method Cap Classique (MCC)– South African sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne method are called Method Cap Classique or commonly are referred to as MCC
Now, these all vary in price, so let’s be smart about the wines we select. Here are our tips on how to choose the best Sparkling Wines:
- Bubbles: Small bubbles are a sign of high-quality wine
- Freshness: Bright and refreshing in your mouth, fruity but not necessarily sweet
- Precise: The wine should feel direct and penetrating on the tongue
- Silk: Sparkling wines that have a little more body to them tend to be of higher quality as they’ve aged for some time before they were put on the shelves.
You don’t have to spend $100 on a bottle of sparkling for it to be delicious and perfect for your palate.
Do you have any favorite sparkling wines?