It’s a tradition. When you want to celebrate an event – such as a wedding, a graduation, a birth, a new car, Saturday, whatever — we raise our glasses high in the air and toast to good health and well wishes. But what’s in that glass? Is it a nice Champagne that will tickle your nose? Or is it a sparkling wine that makes you feel all tingly? And how do you know what’s the best wine to fill your glass?
Champagne: A Definition
Here’s something to keep in mind – Champagne is a sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wines are Champagne. So, what’s the difference? Geography!
True Champagne only comes from the region of Champagne, France. According to the Champagne appellation law, only grapes grown in specifically designated plots in the defined geographical location can be used in the production of Champagne. So as long as the wine is made of grapes that came from that region of France, it can be considered Champagne.
Champagne is primarily made of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. But there can be a tiny amount of other varietals such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier.
What makes Champagne so bubbly is the environment of the region. Cold temperatures keep the yeast in the wine dormant. Once spring rolls around, a second fermenting process begins, causing a release of carbon dioxide gas in the wine which, in turn, causes the carbonation of the wine. Bubbles!
The Different Types of Sparkling Wine
As the popularity of sparkling wine grows, it can be difficult to choose the best one to use in your toast. Here’s three to keep in mind:
- Prosecco: Made from the Glera grape found in Italy, Prosecco is a less complex wine compared to Champagne. Most Prosecco grapes have a fruity taste, causing the wine to be a little sweeter than Champagne.
- Cava: Hailing from Spain, Cava is similar to the style and quality level of Champagne. The main difference is the price point. The longer a Cava ages, the more you’ll get a nutty taste with notes of hazelnut or almond.
- Sekt: Unfortunately, Sekt gets a bad rap. For decades, it’s been considered a cheap, bottom shelf wine in many countries. But just because it’s cheap, doesn’t make it a bad wine at all! The wine is actually beloved in its homeland of Germany and has a light, fruity flavor similar to Prosecco.
Sparkling Wine: Not Just For Toasting
Sparkling wine can be used for so much more than the occasional toast. It is one of the most versatile wines for pairing with food. From a tasty mimosa at breakfast to a spicy Mexican dinner, the bubbles can help scrub the palate and leave your mouth feel fresh and ready for the next entrée.
If you’re in the mood for a little sparkling wine or Champagne, why don’t you come down to Cork and join us for Happy Hour? We would love to have you!