Ever walk into your favorite liquor and wine store and looked at all the varieties of sparkling wine there are. There are not only champagnes but also cavas, prosecco, spumante, and other sparkling wines to choose from. I always wondered what's the best to toast with and what actually are the differences in all of them? Let's start with the most known Champagne.
Champagne is a sparkling drink named after the town of Champagne located far north and close to Paris France. To create the bubbles yeast and sugars are added which cause carbonation in the bottle. If no sugars are added then the champagne is considered extra dry, if sugars are added then it is called brut. Most people call all sparkling wines Champagnes but in fact it is not correct to call them all Champagne. Most Champagne is made to drink right away and is considered a non vintage Champagne. It will only last maybe three to four years before going flat and the grapes used are from many different vintages. A vintaged Champagne can last up to fifteen years before going flat and the grapes are from one vintage. The majority of grapes used to make champagne are chardonnay and pinot noir. Some people say that the smaller the bubbles the better the champagne. Champagne is best enjoyed in a long stem flute glass. This design allows the flow of bubbles upward and enhances the aromas. There are other methods of carbonation although the gas Co2 induced method creates larger bubbles. Champagne first gained its popularity when used to annoint french kings and so the tradition of toasting on good occasions came to be. It is a symbol of wealth and luxury.
Cava's are another sparkling wine which is made in the same process as champagne. Originating from Spain from centuries old wine makers in the northern edge of Spain. You can always tell if you're drinking a cava by the four pointed star on the cork. It comes in all different types of sweetness as well and ninety-nine percent of cavas come from Spain. Cavas are generally aged from 18 to 24 months. Some of the most popular cavas is Freixenet and Codorniu.
Prosecco is another fine sparkling wine from Italy. Although similar to the others mentioned it is actually made in a different method where they carbonate it in the tank before bottling. This method is called the charmat method. A prosecco that is extra sparkling is considered a spumante,not to be confused with asti-spumante ( a non champagne sparkling wine)which is sweeter. The lightly sparkling prosecco is named frizzante. Many of the popular proseccos include Mionetto,and Riondo. Prosecco has a low alcohol content and the flavors are intense, fresh, and crisp. Very good for warm seasons and light as compared to champagne. Italian prosecco falls under strict guidelines and is protected by DOGC.The popularity of sparkling wines has grown and there are many non champagne types of sparkling wines out on the market. Using different varieties of grapes there are now sparkling moscato and lightly fizzy vinho verdes like gazela which are citrus flavored lightly sparkling wines. So your next toast doesn't necessarily need a champagne when there are cava's and proseccos out there equally as good.