A Spirited Conversation - A Beverage To Celebrate All Occasions

Jan 29, 2021 at 05:37 pm by RMGadmin



Question: What beverage is used to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, achievements and yes, even the loss of a loved one? The answer is that famous sparkling wine called Champagne.

Did you know that there are many kinds of sparkling wines in the world? While they each have bubbles, the grapes that are used in production, the rules governing them, and their taste, vary with each kind. We have put together a synopsis of the most common sparkling wines including Champagne, Crémant, Prosecco, Cava and American Sparkling Wine. There is a specific saying that surrounds these beverages: “All Champagne is sparkling wine, however not all sparkling wine is Champagne!” When someone is looking for a sparkling wine, they say they are looking for a Champagne. This really is a starting point to determine what they are actually wanting.

Champagne is the most recognizable sparkling wine in the world. When people ask for a sparkling wine, they often begin with Champagne. Champagne comes from Champagne France, which is made up of three distinct regions, Reims, Epernay, and Ay. Champagne is made from three specific grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In order to be called a true Champagne, international law states it has to be from the Champagne region. Champagnes are often classified based on their sugar content. These range from Extra Dry (less sugar), to Doux (the most sugar). Brut is the most common. 

Champagne has great flavor and taste. It has a nice light gold color and the bubbles dance in the glass. Champagnes are often produced as “non-vintage” in nature. This means that it is blended from grapes of different vintages or years. Champagne is produced using two fermentations, one is in a barrel and the second in the bottle. Champagne can be white or rose.

Crémant is a second type of sparkling wine from France. You may find this in the Champagne section of a store. Like Champagne, it uses two fermentation processes. Crémant literally means creamy. The meaning of Crémant evolved to refer to any wine made with the secondary fermentation method of Champagne that was not actually made in the Champagne region. There are seven regions outside of Champagne, France that can produce Crémant.

But where Crémant gets really interesting is the variety of grapes allowed. Crémant can be made from more than the traditional Champagne grapes mentioned earlier. But if you find a particularly good Crémant, there is also a good chance it costs a lot less than Champagne. Most Crémants are brut in nature or dry.

Prosecco - This sparkling white wine from Italy is very different than it’s Champagne cousin. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, has a little more sweetness to it and the second fermentation process takes place in a steel tank and not in the bottle. This process allows for a more economical sparkling wine to be produced. Recently, Italian Prosecco makers have gone back to the old style of making Prosecco by having the second fermentation occur in the bottle. This drink should be consumed young, usually within three years, once produced. Prosecco is a fresh sparkling wine with a taste of apple and pear and a finish that tastes like citron. The more expensive versions have a richer taste that can include hints of vanilla, plum, and orange.

Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain. Cava literally means cave, the place where the Cava was produced and preserved. Cava may be white or rosé. The Macabeo, Parellada or Xarel-lo are the most popular grapes for producing cava. Most Cava is very economical and are not as expensive as a Champagne. It is light and refreshing and can be used in making several mixed drinks including spritzes and blinis. Cava’s can range from dry to slightly sweet.

American Sparkling Wines - Sparkling wines produced in the United States cannot be called Champagnes even though they may be made from the same grapes as Champagne and use the traditional method to produce. On the American sparkling wine bottles, you will see the words “method traditional,” letting the consumer know how it was produced. Grapes used in the production of American sparkling wine include those used in Champagne production. These sparkling wines range from dry to sweet depending on the grape used. Prices range from about $10 to $50. The American sparkling wines are refreshing, delicious and have a lot of flavor. Some of the wineries that produce American sparkling wines have parent companies found overseas.

Now that you are a sparkling wine expert - where can you sample one of each and begin to experiment with different brands and varietals? Franklin Wine & Spirits is your local, boutique resource for all things wine and spirits including Champagnes and all sparkling wines. Come in today and enjoy speaking with an expert and finding your perfect bottle of bubbly or that special occasion - remember Valentine’s Day is February 14th!

1400 Liberty Pike

Franklin, TN 615.794.4242