No matter what occasion presents itself, Champagne, Prosecco and Sparkling wines are never a far distance away. Maybe it can be blamed on the tiny little bubbles that seem to add effervescence to any personality and makes the whole world more giddy, at least temporarily!
WHAT MAKES THE BUBBLES:
The bubbles of all sparkling wines are formed during a second fermentation process. For the second fermentation the winemaker takes still wine and adds a few grams of sugar and a few grams of yeast. This yeast and sugar convert to carbon dioxide (bubbles) and, of course alcohol. This conversion makes for millions of bubbles trapped in a very small space, sending the pressure soaring to about 80 psi in the typical bottle of sparkling wine. This second fermentation typically occurs in the actual bottle (referred to as the traditional Champagne Method), but can also take place in the fermentation tank (called the Charmat Method), it's up to the winemaker.
The Champagne we know and love comes exclusively from the Champagne region of France, and claims the honor of being the most famous of the sparkling wines. Technically, it is the only sparkling wine that may be referred to as "Champagne." Bubbly from all other regions in the world are simply referred to as "sparkling wine," though regional specialties abound. Spain's sparkler is called Cava, Italy's bubbles come in Prosecco and Moscato d'Asti, and French sparkling wines from everywhere outside of Champagne are referred to as Cremant. Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. give France a run for the money by producing some fantastic sparkling wines at exceptionally competitive price points.
Champagne is defined as a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following rules that demand secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. Some use the term champagne as a generic term for sparkling wine, but many countries reserve the term exclusively for sparkling wines that come from Champagne and are produced under the rules of the appellation. The primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne appellation law only allows grapes grown according to appellation rules in specifically designated plots within the appellation to be used in the production of Champagne. Some sparkling wines produced in other regions of the world use other grapes. Royalty from throughout Europe spread the message of the unique sparkling wine from Champagne and its association with luxury and power in the 17th, 18th and 19th century. The leading manufacturers devoted considerable energy to creating a history and identity for their wine, associating it and themselves with nobility and royalty. Through advertising and packaging, they sought to associate Champagne with high luxury, festivities, and rites of passage. Their efforts coincided with the emergence of a middle class that was looking for ways to spend its money on symbols of upward mobility.
Italy's famed sparkling wine, and the name of the white grape that is used to produce the bubbly itself, hails from the Veneto region, in the northeast of the Italian boot and it's typically a fantastic value wine find - as versatile as it is economical. The dominant Prosecco producing towns are Valdobbiadene and Conegliano - buyer tip: look for these towns on the bottle label. Give up $10 and you will likely grab a Prosecco that offers delicate fruit and enticing aromatics, lots of bubbles (spumante) or lightly-bubbled (frizzante) and usually lies on the dry to off-dry side of the style spectrum. Give up $15-20 and you'll turn the whole Prosecco experience into overdrive - with more fruit vigor, more balance and loads of high-intensity aromatics. On the palate you can expect Prosecco to deliver ripe assorted apple, pear, some citrus and often a dash of nutty almond flavoring. Prosecco is made using the Charmat method, making these wines a first rate wine to drink young and fresh. In general, Prosecco yields lower alcohol levels than many of its still wine counterparts and is best consumed within 2 years of release. Prosecco has another claim to fame, as Venice's popular Bellini cocktail is traditionally made with Prosecco and peach puree. If you are looking for a food-friendly, guest-friendly, easy-going, value-conscious, festive, sparkling white wine find - you will be hard pressed to do better than Italy's popular Prosecco!
Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy. The carbon dioxide may result from natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the méthode champenoise, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of carbon dioxide injection. Sparkling wine is usually white or rosé but there are many examples of red sparkling wines such as Italian Brachetto and Australian sparkling Shiraz. The sweetness of sparkling wine can range from very dry "brut" styles to sweeter "doux" varieties. The United States is a significant producer of sparkling wine with producers in numerous states. As like Champagnes, sparkling wines are categorized as Extra Brut, Brut, Extra dry, Sec and Demi-sec depending on their sugar levels. They are also categorized as “vintage” or “non-vintage” meaning they either come from a single year or are a blend of several different years.
SWS BUBBLES PORTFOLIO:
Please take a moment to review our full Bubbles portfolio in our “SWS Product Listing” section of this magazine and contact your SWS Sales Representative for more details. We wish
you and yours a very healthy and joyous holiday season. Happy Celebrating!