There are many types of sparkling wine produced in several different countries of the world. They are made from a variety of grapes and with different production processes.
The characteristic all sparkling wines have in common is the presence of bubbles, or that fizzy appearance and taste we associate with effervescent wine.
The bubbles come from carbon dioxide that forms in the bottle during fermentation.
There is more than one fermentation process that will create a sparkling wine.
Throughout the world, different wine makers will use their preferred production method and/or those required by the laws of their individual region.
The most well known type of sparkling wine is Champagne. Champagne (with a capital “c”) is produced only in the region of Champagne in France. By law, it can only be made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.
Much to France’s annoyance, United States producers can legally call their sparkling wines “champagne” even though they are not produced in France. On a label in the United States, champagne must begin with a small “c” and the sparkling wine’s geographic origin and production methods must be listed.
Some other regions of France also produce sparkling wines, most notable the Loire Valley where the sparkling wines are referred to as Cremant.
Italy’s sparkling wine is called Asti. Many of us remember Asti Spumante, as it was once called. Asti in the Italian wine region of Piedmont and is made with the Moscato grape.
The Spanish wine region of Catalonia produces their well respected Cava sparkling wine. At one time it was referred to as Spanish Champagne, but that is no longer legal.
Cava is made with several different grapes including the traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, only legally allowed in the past 30 years.
United States produces several types of sparkling wine.
In addition to Domaine Chandon, several French champagne producers have set up shop in the US, including Domaine Chandon and Tattinger in Napa Valley, and Roederer in Mendocino.
Most now use the traditional champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, plus Pinot Blanc.
United States producers Andre, Cooks, and Totts make less expensive sparkling wines using a more cost effective production process.
Germany and Austria
Germany and Austria produce the little known Sekt. Sekt is made with Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris grapes in Germany and Welschriesling and Gruner Vetliner grapes in Austria.
Next time you have something to celebrate, we hope you’ll enjoy one of the types of sparkling wine you’ve learned about here.