Sip on bubbly with confidence
Sparkling wine can turn any ordinary day into a special occasion. However, finding the right bubbly is not always easy because this umbrella category has many unique styles. Next time you’re planning New Year’s Eve festivities or ordering sparkling wine at dinner, know the differences and choose the right one for you with confidence.
It’s the most popular sparkling wine found around the world, but technically it must be produced in the Champagne region of France to be legally labeled “champagne.” Therefore, the true characteristics could never be achieved unless crafted in its hometown. The chilly climate creates perfect conditions for the unique grapes used to make quality champagne—chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
Champagne is the least sweet sparkling wine, ranging from extra brut, brut and extra dry to sec and demi-sec. If sweet is what you’re seeking, look for a doux or demi-sec label. The natural sweetness pairs well with fruits and desserts, but if you’re thirsting for something unusual, pair a doux or demi-sec with salty dishes, from deep fried chicken to potato chips.
This Italian sparkling wine originated in the region of Veneto and lately it’s become champagne’s biggest rival. It’s predominantly made with the Glera grape variety, and lower in alcohol than most sparkling wines. It’s light and easy to drink, giving you a crisp texture and fruity overtones of yellow apple, pear and white peaches.
The sweetness level varies from brut to extra dry to dry, with dry being the sweetest. Most prosecco wines are produced in a dry, brut style. Use it as a palate cleanser to enjoy medium to intense foods such as tofu, shrimp or pork dishes. Or, pair it with spicy foods like Indian curries and Southeast Asian fare, such as Thai or Vietnamese cuisine.
If you’re searching for a sparkling wine between champagne and prosecco, cava is meant for you. Made mostly in the regions of Catalonia and Barcelona, cava is a Spanish sparkling wine at a more affordable price. Most blends use Macabeo, an exotic white grape that serves as the base and adds elegant notes of chamomile or citrus.
Like all sparkling wines, cava is produced with varying levels of sweetness, from the crisp, dry brut and extra brut to the sweeter semi-sec and dolsec. Brut varieties are considered higher in quality because they use minimal added sugar. Rich meats like lamb and pork are ideal pairings, along with cured meats, olives and cheeses, but if you’re sipping on a cava with crisp acidity and zesty character, pair it with fish.
Toast with new bubbles
Champagne is normally the preferred sparkling wine when it comes to festive celebrations like New Year’s Eve or weddings. But now that you have uncovered the key flavors to prosecco and cava, challenge your taste buds with new bubbles.