Whatever the situation, sparkling wine is always the solution. Whether brunching, celebrating the holidays, or toasting to the ‘little things’ in life, sparkling wine always guarantees a good time-- though not all that sparkles is Champagne. Sparkling wine is produced all over the globe, from a plethora of grape varieties and production methods. So what sets a bottle of bubbles apart from the rest? We’re breaking down the world’s most famous sparkling wine styles, here. Simply pop, fizz, and get to learning!
Perhaps the most famous of them all, Champagne is basically regarded as the king of sparkling wine. Produced in its namesake region of France, Champagne bottles get their fizz via the méthode traditionelle, in which a secondary fermentation is executed in bottle. Technically, Champagne’s AOC laws allow for seven grape varieties to be used in the production process, though 99% of bottle focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier. These high-end, labor intensive bubbles produce bottles of great texture and complexity, known for their high acidity, delicate bubbles, and age-worthy potential. For the best of the best, you know where to go.
Produced from the Glera grape, in the heart of Italy’s Veneto region, Prosecco has become a sparkling wine staple in America, and it’s no surprise why. Affordable, fruit-forward, and ready to be popped now, Prosecco is perfect for brunches, cocktails, and weeknight glasses of bubbles. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is produced via the Charmat method (tank method), where secondary fermentation is executed in steel tanks. For cream of the crop Prosecco, look for DOCG designated bottlings, specifically from Cartizze.
Looking for Champagne style bubbles with a Prosecco reminiscent price tag? Then Cava is the way to go. Produced in the Penedes region of Catalonia, these Spanish bubbles get their sparkle via the traditional method (like Champagne), from the indigenous Spanish grape varieties of Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada. For the best bang for your buck option, Cava is your answer.
Produced in both Germany and Austria, Sekt designates an array of styles and grape varieties, vinified bone dry to pleasantly sweet, incorporating both charmat and traditional methods. In Germany, most quality Sekt is based on the Riesling grape, though Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and other varieties are often used. In Austria, Sekt bottlings are usually produced with Gruner Veltliner or Welschriesling; believe it or not, sparkling wine production actually has a rich history within this part of Europe, with first recordings of bubble production dating back to the 1600s. For something sparkly and unique, Sekt is a solid choice.
Although the term Champagne only comprises bottles from its namesake region, Champagne style bubbles are produced all over France, using the méthode traditionelle and similar (and beyond) grape varieties. These bottles are crafted in nearly every wine producing region in France, most notably from the Loire, Jura, Limoux (Languedoc), and Loire Valley. For Champagne like bubbles that won’t break the bank, crémants are the answer.
For bottles produced in the OG style of sparkling wine production, look no further than pét-nats. Unlike the charmat and traditional methods, which incorporate a secondary fermentation in their vinification processes, pét-nats only require one fermentation. Wines are bottled prior to their primary fermentation being complete, allowing the wine to complete fermentation in bottle, leaving a smidge of residual sugar, sediment, and cloudiness behind, due to their lack of disgorgement. Fun, fizzy, and downright chuggable, these low ABV ‘porch pounders’ are perfect for brunches, mid-day drinking, and pre-dinner aperitifs.
Sparkling wine is, of course, produced outside of just the regions listed above. Many quality bottles are produced in England, Australia, the United States, and Chile, using a variety of grapes and methods. As always, here at Verve, we believe that the best way to get to know the world of sparkling wine (or any wine, for that matter) is to taste a much as you possibly can, comparing and contrasting styles and varieties against one another. Host an at-home blind tasting with friends or simply stock up on your own and get to popping, to see for yourself all that the world of sparkling wine has to offer. Happy sipping!