A Guide to Sparkling Wine
All champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne. While there are other styles and sources of sparkling wine, here’s the lowdown on the most common varietals you will find on the brunch beverage menus.
The wine known as “Champagne” can only come from this region in France, known for the unique chalk soil and cool climate dictating the grapes will always be high in acid, perfect for sparkling wine. Champagne can be made with only three grape varietals, chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. There are several types of champagne, including nonvintage, blanc de blancs, vintage, rose, tete de cuvee and demi sec. It must be made in the traditional method, méthode champenoise, in which the wine is fermented once in the barrel and then undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle.
Cava, another favorite sparkling wine, comes from the Penedes region of Spain. Wines must follow the traditional method of making champagne. Most cava producers use the “big three” indigenous grape varieties, macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada.
Prosecco is the most well-known Italian sparkling wine, made from glera grapes predominantly, from the Prosecco village in the northeast region of Italy. Unlike champagne and cava, prosecco is usually produced using the Charmat method in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, making the wine less expensive to produce.
Most people celebrate special occasions with grower champagnes. Due to their uniqueness and smaller production, they are a little pricier than their cava and prosecco competitors. Typically, champagne is meant to be enjoyed on its own, but to each their own. Prosecco and some cavas are more commonly used in brunch beverages or blended in cocktails.
EASY SPARKLING WINE COCKTAILS
Pour 1½ ounces St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur in a stem glass and fill the rest with sparkling wine.
Combine 1½ ounces Aperol, 2 ounces sparkling wine and 2 ounces sparkling water in a champagne flute or coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and olive.