Sparkling Wines: Champagne Alternatives

In a previous post I talked about how the majority of customers who ask for “Champagne” are almost always, unknowingly, asking for a reasonably priced sparkling wine. If you haven’t purchased your bubbly yet for your New Year celebration, it is a good idea to know what is available out there as a Champagne alternative. Here are a few terms you should know when making your selections for New Year or any special event:IMG_1640

Prosecco – Produced solely in the northeastern part of Italy, Prosecco is one of the most common of the sparkling wines. There are nine provinces in the Veneto and Fruili Venezia Giulia regions where it is exclusively produced. Named after the town of Prosecco, it was also once the name of the grape used, but in 2009 was renamed Glera by the European Union. The Glera grape must account for at least 85% of all Proseccos; other grapes commonly used in addition are native varieties Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga and international grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio.  Unlike Champagne, which must be refermented in the bottle (Méthode Champenoise), Prosecco is made by refermenting the wine in steel tanks (Charmat Method or Italian method). The three sweetness levels of Prosecco are: Brut, Extra Dy and Dry.IMG_1587

Cava – A Spanish sparkling wine, Cava can be either white (blanco) or rosé (rosado). Traditional white Cava is made from the white grape varieties Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo. 95% of all Cava is produced in Catalonia in northeastern Spain. Like Champagne, Cava is made using the Traditional Method or Méthode Champenoise. Cava has seven different sweetness levels: Brut Nature, Brut, Extra Brut, Extra-Seco, Seco, Semi-Seco and Dolce.IMG_1588

Crémant – An alternative to Champagne, the French sparkling wine Crémant is just slightly less effervescent. The name literally means “creamy” so the softer bubbles have a more silky feel. Crémants are produced in specific regions of Loire, Burgundy and Limoux. They, too, are made using the Traditional Method or Méthode Champenoise. Depending on the area, grape varieties vary, but they all heed to the same rules – hand-harvesting, second fermentation in the bottle and 12 month minimum aging. There are also two areas outside of France that produce Crémant – Crémant de Luxembourg and Crémant de Wallonie in Belgium. The sweetness levels of Cremant are: Ultra Brut, Brut, Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux.

Whichever you choose to ring in the New Year, may it be a safe, happy and healthy 2020 for you all! Thank you for your continued support.

Cin Cin!