Sparkling wine normally stands out because of its fizzy appearance as well as the effervescence wine taste, due to the significant amount of carbon dioxide. Sparkling wine is produced through four main methods: Method Traditionnelle/ Champenoise, Methode Ancestrale, Method Charmat and the Injection method. All of these methods utilize two fermentation processes, as opposed to just one as in the still wines. The sweetness of the sparkling wine is determined by the amount of sugar added after the second fermentation as well as the aging. There are many types of sparkling wine produced in various countries, as many as the number of fruits and methods used in the process. I will describe the most prominent ones from various countries.
This is the most popular of the sparkling wine worldwide. It is produced in the champagne region in France, though some sparkling wines in America and England are branded as champagne (with a small ‘c’). Three types of grapes of grapes – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meaner- are blend together through the method Champenoise to create the amazing taste and smell associated with Champagne. Dom Perignon is probably the most well-known brand of Champagne.
Produced mostly in France, this type of sparkling wine is mostly known for its low amounts of carbon dioxide. Traditionally, carbon dioxide pressures were used for the crmant hence giving it a creamy mouth feel.
This is a Spanish (white or pink) sparkling wine that uses the champenoise method but with different types of grapes from those used in Champagne. Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello, and Chardonnay grapes are used. There are many cava sparkling wines varieties depending on the level of dryness.
This is a Portuguese sparkler that can be produced anywhere is Portugal. It can be made using either the traditional method or the charmat method. Espumosos is a variety that is made by injection the carbon dioxide- it is low level and cheap sparkling wine.
A sweet Italian sparkler made in the region of Asti using the charmat method. Muscat grapes are used in the process to create this wine that has a sweet flavor and low alcohol content of about 8%.
This is a dry white Italian sparkler that is produced through the Charmat method just like the Asti, but it is dryer and sweeter due to the Prosecco grapes used. It comes in lightly sparkling and fully sparkling versions. Unlike champagne, Prosecco, does not “get better with age,” and should actually be consumed while at its youngest otherwise it will go stale. Prosecco is the main ingredient in various “Bellini” cocktails, and can also be used as a substitute in any cocktail that calls for champaign, such as Mimosas.
This is yet another Italian Sparkling wine and can be distinguished from the rest due to its yellow straw color. It is produced using the Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes through the méthode traditionnelle. It is also unique since its minimum alcohol level is above 11%.
This is sparkling wine produced in Germany using the Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc grapes. This type of sparkling wine is normally produced using the Charmat method. However, the cheap varieties are produced through carbon dioxide injection; and methode traditionnelle is used for the premium brands.
Sekt is also found in Austria but is produced through the méthode champenoise using Gruner Veltliner and Welschriesling grapes hence the golden color.
This is a Hungarian sparkling wine that is made using either the charmat or the traditional method. International and native grapes are used in the production and may range from Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot noir, Muscat Lunel, Muscat Ottonel to Furmint, Olaszrizling, Furmint, Kekfrankos, and Keknyelu grapes.
This is Russian Champagne named as the ‘Soviet Champagne’. The name remained even after the disintegration of the Soviet Union since it was already a popular brand among the rich. It is also produced in Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Belarus. It is mostly dry though a sweet version is produced in Moldova by using the Muscat grapes.
This is an Australian sparkler that uses the traditional method and Shiraz grapes. The red sparkling wine is sweet although there are dry and tannic varieties.
Methode Cap Classique
This is a South African sparkling wine produced through the champenoise method. The grapes used in this production are the Sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot noir.
Above are some of the authentic types of sparkling wine. However, today more and more countries are venturing into the industry using difference combinations of grapes and methods. The production of sparkling wine in America, is for instance, growing tremendously hence encouraging innovations as to the types and varieties of sparkling wine that can be produced. The above types of sparkling wine are worth a taste and it is by doing so that you can actually tell the difference between the various varieties.