A recent article from the Wall Street Journal says Champagne is “bubbling again” which is music to the ears of bubble hounds around the globe. We love the fizz here at IWA, of course, as it is an integral part of the rich and cultured wine country lifestyle we all embrace. While most known as the beverage of choice for celebration, we think that any occasion is a good (no, Great!) occasion to pop open some bubbly and it doesn’t necessarily have to be from Champagne. Let us know if you agree in the comments below and tell us some of your favorites! Here are some tips and information about sparkling wine we hope you find interesting.
Champagne is Queen of Sparkling Wine
While Champagne is the motherland of the effervescent nectar served in a tall, skinny flute, quality sparkling wine is also made in other areas of the globe like Prosecco in Italy and Cava in Spain. However, keep in mind that, technically, you should not call, and in most places cannot call, a sparkling wine “Champagne” unless it is from that region in France. Another thing to keep in mind is that the best sparkling wines are made in the style of Methode Champenoise, or the traditional method. This means that the wine is fermented and aged in the same bottle that you are drinking out of and the bubbles tend to be tinier, another indicator of quality. There are other methods that can be used, but the traditional method is considered the best way to make high-quality sparkling wine. Here is a cool video that explains the basics of Methode Champenoise:
Champagne can only be made from up to 3 grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and some common types of Champagne you may have heard of or will discover:
- Blanc de Blancs – “White from whites” = mostly Chardonnay
- Blanc de Noirs – “White from blacks” = mostly Pinot Noir, which is a red grape, but the juice is clear so if there is little to no skin contact the sparkling wine will be a light color
How to Open
There are so many ways to open a bottle of Champagne. There are hundreds on YouTube alone so we won’t bore you here with another demonstration, but if you often struggle opening a bottle there is a cool opener that really makes it easy. Using a saber is pretty cool too, but be careful! Against common practice, the best way to open a bottle of sparkling wine is very carefully, twisting the bottle with one hand, while holding the cork steady with steady pressure. Instead of a huge “POP!” you really want to just let out a “contented sigh of a woman” to maintain the integrity of the wine before the first pour and, of course, not to end up wearing half the bottle! Then again, who are we to tell you what to do with your wine?
When reading the label on a bottle of sparkling wine there will be terms that will help you determine which style, in terms of dry or level of sweetness, you may like:
- Brut Zero/Brut Nature/Sans Dosage: No added sugar
- Extra Brut: Nearly dry, contains no more than 0.6% sugar
- Brut: Nearly dry, contains no more than 1.5% sugar
- Extra Dry/Extra Sec: Slightly sweeter, can contain up to 2% sugar
- Dry/Sec: Can contain up to 3.5% sugar
- Demi-Sec: Just sweet enough, can contain up to 5% sugar
- Doux: Sweet, more than 5% sugar
We know it’s the season for celebration with Christmas and New Year’s still yet ahead of us so, go ahead, grab a few bottles of bubbly. If you’re a fan of the fizz make a resolution for 2012 to sip more bubbles regardless of date on the calendar. You won’t be disappointed.