Aside from being the most luxurious alcoholic beverage ever made, champagne remains a status symbol of sorts the world over. Sipping at bubbles is so decadent and revered, the producers of this drink have been swimming in millions of dollars worth of sales revenues for decades. Enter sparkling wines. These ranges from accessible fizzy drinks to those styled to rival the best champagne around. With a keen eye on the world of pop, here's all you need to know about both.
1. They aren't the same.
A bit obvious you say. Well, both are sparkling wines. The differences come in with the region, grapes and styles. Champagne can exclusively be made in its namesake region in the tranquil countryside of Burgundy, France. It includes a particular cocktail of local varietals; Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Anything else, though made with the same varietals must assume another identity. You can imagine what that does to the real-estate business in that region.
2. Winemaking styles are both traditional and modern.
Some winemakers might choose both. Italy is famous for its frizzante wines. Not exactly fitting in this category, these still wines are unfiltered relinquishing them to fizz in the bottle as they develop. A sort of secondary fermentation. Why is this relevant? Because that is the fundamental principle of Methode champenoise, one of the many methods employed in sparkling winemaking.
Developed by Dom Perigon, the blind lush French monk. It is claimed this method was at first an accident, that he had wanted to take off the bubbles in his wine fermented in wine bottles. During fermentation, the bottles are gradually turned till they are upside down. Allowing the cap to be frozen off and removed. Rebottling (where the Co2 bubbles are most prominent), proved to be a little tricky for Dom.
People loved it still, and it went on to become the crowd pleaser and inspiration for rap lyrics it is today.
Other methods include modern-day techniques like the Charmant (Tank method) or the carbonation method.
3. Almost every winemaking country has a signature Sparkling wine.
South Africa has Method Cap Classique, Spain's Cava, Portuguese espumante not to mention Italy's vast list.
Italy is prolific at styles of sparkling wines most famous and best selling being Prosecco from the northern region of the boot. You are guaranteed to find gems usually made with unique local varietals. Try Franciacorta from Lombardy for some pocket friendly Champagne style wines. Asti and Lambrusco form Emilia-Romagna.
France also has a creamier, less bubbly one called Crémant.
4. Levels of sweetness vary.
Starting from the dryest 'Extra Brut' to sweet, this champers serves up a bone dry punch. Unconsumed sugar left after fermentation plays a vital role in how light the wine feels on the palate and its savoury mouthfeel. Winemakers manipulate this by choosing the perfect strain of yeast to suit a desired dryness.
5. Pair with anything-just, not cake