Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Sparkling Wine

The holidays and the year end celebrations have turned many wine lovers' thoughts toward Champagne, the bubbly celebratory drink that hits its stride around this time of year.

It's a good time to note that "Champagne" technically comes only from the region in France known as Champagne.  From anywhere else, it's sparkling wine.  Spumante is the generic name for sparkling wine in Italy.  In Spain, it's Cava.  Germans and Austrians call it Sekt.  It's Cap Classique in South Africa.  Even in France, if it's not from Champagne, it may be called mousseux or crément.

Wherever it's from, and whatever it's called, the common denominator is all those bubbles, which are produced by carbon dioxide formed in the bottle during fermentation.

Champagne is produced using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, while mousseux and crémant may use other grapes.

Asti, in the Italian wine region of Piedmont, produces a spumante from Moscato grapes, while Prosecco grapes are used for the Italian sparkler that goes by that grape's name.

In Spain, Cava is made mainly in Catalonia from Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada.

Sekt is made with Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris grapes in Germany, Welschriesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes in Austria.

There are those who feel a day isn't complete without a little bubbly, and others who save that treat for the holidays, or special occasions - liking ringing in the new year.  Wherever you fall on that spectrum, no doubt there'll be a bottle or two of Champagne, sparkling wine, crémant or Cava in your near future. 

Just don't forget about it once the bowl games are over.

Tomorrow, some suggestions for "bargain bubblies"!

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