Today’s post is by wine aficionado (and new Entertaining, Food, and Wine Editor!) Noelle, who shares some of her expertise on the bubbly. Confused about how to select champagnes for your wedding? Noelle’s incredibly informative series on sparkling wines has come to your rescue. Noelle says:
Growing up in Northern California wine country, I know more about wine than some people, but probably less than a lot of others. One thing I do know is that wine is for enjoying. Everyone’s palate is different, so there’s no reason to be intimidated when choosing a bottle of wine at a restaurant or more importantly, the sparkling wine for your wedding toast. Yes, I said sparkling wine. Not champagne. Why? Because though many people call it champagne, or “champ” or “champers” for short, technically it’s only Champagne if it comes from Champagne, France.
Does that mean if it’s not real Champagne it won’t taste as good or my guests will think I’m cheap? As the late Whitney Houston would say, “Hell to the No!” There are a wide range of non-champagne bubblies that are both very delicious and very affordable.
And when you’re on a budget, it’s good to know that you can find a great sparkler at the right price. So the more you know, the easier it’ll be to make a decision. Hence a quick lesson (no pop quiz later, promise!):
Champagne is from the Champagne region of France and is made using one or more of three wine grapes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier) and requires the method champenoise – the traditional, time-honored process of fermenting sparkling wine naturally in the bottle. Its yeasty taste often does not appeal to the American palate. Popular brands: Moët & Chandon (Dom Perignon), Perrier-Jouët, Taittinger, Louis Roederer (Cristal), Veuve-Cliquot.
Cava is Spanish sparkling wine made with Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel·lo grapes and it must be produced in the method champenoise to be labeled a cava and come from one of eight approved wine growing regions of Spain. Popular brands: Freixenet, Jaume Serre Cristalino, Codorníu, Segura Viudas.
Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine that is usually Dry or Extra-Dry (see our graphic) and made from Glera (“Prosecco”) grapes usually with the Charmat method, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and is therefore less expensive to produce. Taste Profile: ripe assorted apple, pear, light citrus. Popular brands: Mionetto, Zonin, Zardetto, Voveti.
Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco are all sparkling wines, however the term sparkling wines can refer to any wine with enough carbon dioxide to produce bubbles. Sparkling wine can be made anywhere in the world using a variety of grapes, though Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the most common, and with a variety of methods of fermentation. Some popular American sparkling wines include Korbel, Gloria Ferrer, Gruet, and Domaine Chandon.
Feeling more educated? We certainly are. Please share the love by pinning our graphic on your favorite Pinterest board. Tomorrow, Noelle will break down her sparkling wine picks for all budgets. And if you have any questions or need specific recommendations, please let us know in the comments.