It's nice to break open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the holidays - or any special occasion for that matter. But there's a misconception that sparkling wine is either cheap and awful or just too expensive. Angela Aiello came back to give us a primer on the world of sparkling wines!
Tasting in order of dryness:
Vueve Champagne-$$$$$ (France)- $69.70
Chateau Des Charmes Brut- $$ (Ontario) $22.95
Piper Champagne- $$$ (France) $57.00
Domain Chandon-$$(California) $24.95
Prosecco- $ (Italy)- $12.75
Ice Cuvee- $$ (Ontario)- $30.00
WHAT IS SPARKLING WINE?
All production methods for sparkling wines have one thing in common: they have the purpose of introducing enough carbon dioxide in the wine to make it sparkling, i.e., "bubbly".
How they make sparkling wine
1- Injection of CO2 into the
2- Charmat method - secondary fermentation happens in the bulk tanks and then bottled
3- Traditional/Classic method or methode champenoise - bubbles produced in the bottles - very labor and time intense
4- Transfer method - primary fermentation in the bottle and then transferred to a tank and then rebottled
What about Cuvee? - Champagne and sometimes in other regions producing sparkling wines by the traditional method, the cuvee also refers to the best grape juice from gentle pressing of the grapes. In Champagne, the cuvee is the first 2,050 liters of grape juice from 4,000 kg of grapes. The cuvee-labelled wines will usually be special blends or selected vats of higher quality
IS ALL SPARKLING WINE THE SAME?
Sparkling wine is not all the same...
Sparkling wine can be based around and therefore named on geography, however, they all have bubbles and are relatively the same product, obviously dependant on how they are made. Also the majority of the Champagne produced is non-vintage (juice from a few different years)
Champagne- Sparkling wine from France (a region in France)
Prosecco - sparkling wine from Italy made from Prosecco Grapes
Spumante - is Italian for sparkling wine, usually sweet and low in alcohol
Cava - sparkling wine from Spain
Cap Classique - South Africa
Sekt - Germany
Crement - Burgundy & Alsace
Asti - uses the Muscat grape
WHAT'S INSIDE A BOTTLE OF SPARKLING
Champagne - Chardonnay & Pinot Noir /Pinot Menueir
Blanc de Blanc - only white chardonnay
Blanc de Noirs - only Pinot Noir/Pinot Menueir
Rose Champagne - salmon pink in colour
Other Sparkling wines may be made 100% of grapes like Sauvignon Blanc (NZ), Chenin Blanc, Icewine, fruit sparkling and more.
1. First look at the price - it will indicate how the wine was made and if it suits your budget, there ARE affordable sparkling wines that taste great! Sparkling wines made in the traditional method are pricier, however you can find more affordable sparkling wines where bubbles have been added to the wine before it has been bottled.
2. Then look at the dryness level - sometimes this is not on the label, so you may need to try the wine to figure it all out
The sweetness levels:
Sweetness levels can sometimes be found on wine labels, however sometimes it just takes a bit of knowledge (and of course some taste trials) to figure out what each one tastes like. Sparkling wine sweetness levels (and therefore names) are based on the amount of sugar added into the final dosage of sugar that gets added to the wine.
6 tips to serve sparkling wine in style:
Find the perfect sparkling wine - dry, sweet, pricey, affordable, this is dependant on environment and guest preferences, is it served with food?
Serve your Sparkling at the proper temperature - serve your sparkling wine quite cold - but never put in freezer, a great way to display sparkling wine is in a display wine chiller with even parts ice and water to keep the wine chilled until the entire bottle is complete
Know how to open - Showcase how you open your bottle of sparkling - whether its making sure that when pulling the cork there is no noise, or making sure you share the bubbly, be aware of how to open it.
Know how to pour the wine - pour a little bit of wine (about 1/3) of the glass, then wait for the bubbles to sizzle away and then pour again to fill the glass. Hold the bottle of wine by the side or bottom, never by the neck.
Use the proper stemware - The holidays are when you can truly showcase some great crystal collection Crystal in your collection. The crystal will bring out the delicate bubbles of the wine.
Share your sparkling story - Every bottle of wine has its story, whether it is how you found it, why you like it or the true story of the wine. It is a great way to break the ice is to talk about what you're serving.
Angela Aiello is from the iYellow Wine Club: www.iYellowWineClub.com - "Toronto's Hottest Social Wine Club"
To purchase any other Ontario Wine and have it delivered to your home (In Ontario) visit www.iYellowWineStore.com