Sparkling Wine: Not Only for New Year's
Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 8:14PM
truthinjuice in Champagne, Wine Discovery

New Year's Eve is the one evening each year when nearly every wine drinker opts for a bottle of sparkling wine. The pop of the cork, and the effervescent tingling of bubbles on the tongue is an deeply ingrained New Year's tradition, almost like gifts under the tree at Christmas. Sadly, despite this country's affinity for bubbles during the holidays, sparkling wines are largely forgotten during the rest of the year. This does not have to be, nor should it be the case, for sparkling wines are some of the most versatile food wines in existence. A good Champagne can easily bridge the gap between foods that would normally require separate wine pairings, such as steak and lobster. It tames spice nicely, making it a nice match for Asian dishes and sushi. Finally, it is equally well-matched for both light and hearty fare. Champagne's descendents and relatives (Cava, Prosecco, American Sparkling Wines) each have their own virtues as well. Since there is a plethora of sparkling wine articles in circulation this time of year, I'll keep this brief, but I will make the plea that you not constrict your sparkling wine consumption to holiday celebrations. Sparkling wines have so much more to offer.

With that being said, here's a review of a sparkling wine tasting that we hosted in conjunction with Burlington Wine Shop in December, and a brief run down on the different types of sparkling wines that you might encounter throughout the year.

Champagne - Gaston Chiquet Brut Tradition NV

Champagne is the grandfather of sparkling wines, but did you know:

Prosecco - NV Montesel Vigna del Paradiso Prosecco

Prosecco is one of many sparkling wines found in Italy, but it is the one that most American consumers are most familiar with. Unlike Champagne, it is made in the Charmat method, in which the secondary fermentation used to impart the the wine's sparkling character is conducted in tank, as opposed to the bottle. Other famous Italian sparkling wines include the wines of the Franciacorta region, in Lombardy, the sparkling wines of the producer Ferrari, in Trentino, and Moscato d'Asti in Piedmont. Both Franciacorta and Ferrari's wines are produced in the Méthode Classique style, while most Moscato d'Asti is made using the Charmat method, although some producers still the Méthode Classique. 

Prosecco is the second most popular Italian sparkling wine, after Moscato d'Asti. Did you know:

Cava - NV Gran Gesta Reserve Brut

Cava is far more similar to Champagne than Prosecco, as it is produced using the Méthode Classique. Still it is worth remembering some key differences, and fun facts.

American Sparkling Wines - 2007 Domaine Carneros Brut

Most American sparkling wines are made using Méthode Classique in homage to the wines of Champagne. In fact, many American sparkling wines are produced by major Champagne houses, who founded secondary estates in the US to increase their holdings. Among the major Champagne houses with American estates are: Taittinger (Domaine Carernos), Mumm (Mumm Napa), Louis Roederer (Roederer Estate), and Moët et Chandon (Domaine Chandon). However, many small production sparkling wines are produced in America as well. Ones to look for include Schramsberg, Soter, and Iron Horse.

Sparkling Red Wine - Steininger Zweigelt Sekt

Sparkling Rosé - Meinklang Frizzante Rosé of Pinot Noir

Sparkling wines do not have to be limited to white wines. The same production methods (Méthode Classique and Charmat) can be applied to still red and rosé wines to impart a sparkling character. These two Austrian wines are fantastic examples of what a sparkling red or a sparkling rosé can offer. The Steininger family employs Méthode Classique production methods in their Zweigelt Sekt, and the result is a delightfully earthy red wine, with a sparkling character that makes it a perfect pairing for turkey or other fowl. 

Additionally, I have sung the praises of the Meinklang Frizzante Rosé of Pinot Noir countless times. It is one of my favorite rosés each summer, offering a perfect balance of strawberry fruit and herbal flavors, with a delightful effervescence.

Other sparkling red wines can be found in Australia (sparkling Shiraz), Italy (Lambrusco and Brachetto), and in other esoteric production locations around the globe. Rosé Champagnes are a special treat that no one should miss out on, and sparkling rosés from other locales are equally worthy of your attention.

In short, sparkling wines deserve to be in your glass far more often than during the holidays. While Champagne can be taxing on the wallet, the other wines mentioned here can usually be found for an affordable price, and often offer far greater value. So while the holidays may be ending, the popping of corks should not be. Drink up, and cheers! 

Article originally appeared on Truth In Juice: Wine Education & Commentary (
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