Did you know the champagne market was up by 25 percent in 2021? Total shipments rose to 322 million bottles and exports were on the rise as well.
With champagne rising in popularity, you might want to try it. If you’ve never had it before, though, it’s easy to mistake this drink for sparkling wine. That’s where knowing what to look for in each drink comes into play, though.
Luckily, we’re here to help. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the different types of sparkling wines.
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Know the Difference Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine
The most important rule of thumb: Not all sparkling wine is champagne, but all champagne is sparkling wine.
The only place you can find true champagne is the Champagne region in France. It’s made from only three types of grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir. The wine gets its bubbles from being fermented a second time after the first.
The first round of fermentation is how traditional wine is made. The second round is done inside a pressurized bottle sealed with a crown cap. Carbon dioxide is produced during this process, which is where the sparkles come from.
Since the process of making champagne can be so painstaking, you’re likely to run into price premiums — especially for luxury brands. If you’re on a budget, though, you still have options. The biggest difference you’re going to find with these options is the type of grapes that are used, and the fermentation process itself.
What Are Your Other Options?
If you’re shopping on a budget, there are a lot of other varieties of sparkling wine created around the world.
Cava from Spain is the most similar. It’s made using the same process as traditional Champagne, but it uses grapes like Macabeo and Paralleda, which are native to Spain. It’s also made in a much larger production area, so you’re not going to pay the same premiums.
Prosecco, made with Glera grapes from Italy, is another great option. The fermentation process differs completely here, though. Instead of the second one happening in a bottle, it’s done in a large tank and then bottled under pressure. The process leads to a more simplified flavor since you’re leaving out methods like barrel aging and grape blending.
If you want to stick with traditionally fermented sparkling wine, though, you can find plenty of options from countries like Argentina, Germany, Chile, the United States, and even other regions of Paris. They’re still great choices, and they come at a much more affordable price point.
Whether you’re buying a bottle to keep around the house or you’re hosting a dinner party, though, knowing what to look for in a bottle of wine is essential. If it’s only you drinking this bottle, you can use a sparkling wine stopper to seal it for later.
Bubble size is the most important thing to consider here, as it helps determine the quality of wine you’re buying. Remember, the smaller the better.
If you’re at an event and it feels like you’re drinking soda instead of champagne, then you’ll know that it’s low quality (and probably not real). You want to see small, effervescent bubbles that work to create a light, frothy texture.
Learn the Label
There are other ways to determine quality, though. Looking at the label is going to help you decode the rest of the wine, so it’s essential to understand what you’re reading.
You’ll notice different names for the styles of sparklers on the bottle itself. These names are used to determine how many grams of sugar have been added to the wine. Remember, if there wasn’t any sugar in this drink, it’d be pretty bitter.
The most common style is “Brut,” which means there are less than 12 grams of sugar added per liter, so the flavor is going to be slightly dry. If you want even drier wine, then you should turn to “Brut Nature” styles, which have less than three grams of sugar added. The sweeter styles are called “Demi-Sec” or “Doux.”
Don’t Select Based on Price Alone
It’s easy to simply pick up the cheapest bottle you see when you’re on a budget, but you’d be making a mistake. Instead, take a look at all the options in your budget and then make your selection.
You might not have access to the fanciest sparkling wines, but you can still find a decent wine at any price point. With a bit of time and research, you’ll be well on your way to finding a new favorite.
Pick the Perfect Pairings
Next, find your perfect pairing. Whether it’s oysters with true Champagne or a dry prosecco with Burratta, treat yourself to an experience. If you’re looking for something sweeter, try a Brut rose with a flourless chocolate cake.
Other things that pair well with Brut champagne include mushroom dishes, pasta or risotto, and especially lobster. You can also get creative with different fruits.
You’d be surprised at just how many things you can pair with this drink. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Ready to Pick the Best Sparkling Wines?
Now that you know more about the perfect sparkling wines, are you ready to get started? Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for your first dinner party, knowing where to start is the important part. Basing your menu around a great sparkling wine is a popular choice that a lot of party hosts make, and we suggest starting there!
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