Champagnes & Sparkling Wines
The distinction between sparkling wine and champagne is not always clear to most people.
To clarify misconceptions, champagne is a special type of sparkling wine that is exclusively manufactured in the champagne region of France.
If you want to learn more about sparkling wines and champagnes, then read on. We will tell you everything you need to know about these drinks that light up each party.
Sparkling wine is a wine that has bubbles and is carbonated.
There are two ways to create a sparkling wine’s carbonation: Methode Champenoise (this method is used to create champagne) or Metodo Italiano (also known as the Charmat-Martinotti method). The difference between these two is the taste of the wine. The Charmat-Martinotti yields a fruity and younger taste, while Methode Champenoise produces a drier and less fruity taste.
Sweetness Level of Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine has four distinct sweetness levels; these are indicated on the bottle.
The different levels of sweetness are:
- Extra-Brut: In this sweetness level, the yeast has eaten the entire sugar content, thus producing the driest category of sparkling wine.
Brut: Just before the yeast consumes all of the sugar content, the fermentation process is concluded. With the meager amount of sugar left, this sparkler yields a dry taste with just a hint of sweetness. Despite the dry taste, this specific sparkling wine is the most favored by people. Also, it is important to note that champagnes are the most common sparkler to be labeled as Brut.
- Extra Dry: Despite the name “extra dry,” this sparkler has a higher level of sweetness (but not sugary sweet) than Brut wines.
Demi-sec: Among all of the levels, this has a palpable sweetness and is often drunk with desserts.
- Fresh: It must have a fruity and alive tingle in the mouth but not essentially sweet.
- Precise: Specifically pertaining to the acid, which is a staple for sparkling wines, the penetration to the tongue must be direct.
- Sparkling: A strong indicator of a premium quality sparkling wine is the small bubbles.
Distinguished Properties of Sparkling Wine
In order for a sparkler to be considered as an exemplary sparkling wine, it must possess these qualities:
Sparkling wines rose to popularity due to its versatility in terms of pairing. Also, it complement well with dishes that have a hint of fruitiness or sweetness.
Most of the time, it is named after the specific country or region of its origin, like Cava for sparklers manufactured in Spain, Prosecco for those produced in Italy, and Sekt for German sparkling wine.
Among all the categories of sparkling wine, champagne is one of the famous ones. Champagnes are reputed to have a harmonious combination of fruitiness, body, aroma, delicacy, and freshness.
Champagne got its name from its place of birth: Champagne, France. The raw ingredients used to make it are grown, harvested, fermented, and bottled in this specific area of France.
Champagne is settled in the northeast region of Paris. Currently, the estate boasts an extensive 76,000 acres span of vineyards. This specific domain covers 319 villages that spread throughout the hills and plains.
Specific Raw Materials
Another distinction of champagne, aside from its area of origins, is the kind of grapes used to make it. Not all grapes grown in the Champagne region are used for the “Cuvee.” A Cuvee is the mixture of the initial and most potent juices extracted from the pressed grapes.
Only 7 grapes are used in producing a bottle of champagne. The most commonly used among the grapes is Pinot Noir and is used for producing a Blanc de Noir. Chardonnays (most champagnes utilize 1/3 Chardonnay and 2/3 red) and Pinot Meunier comes in second in terms of usage for champagne. Specific types of grapes that are not often used (but are still utilized) are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier, and Arbane.
Process of Production
Méthode Champenoise (Fermented in a bottle) is the system of producing Champagne and high quality sparkling wine wherein a secondary fermentation is required.
A concoction of sugar and yeast, which is named liqueur de triage, is mixed into still wine for the second fermentation. Then, the wine is placed inside a bottle and sealed with a cap that resembles the ones used for beers. With the mixture of yeast and sugar, carbon dioxide is then entrapped inside for a certain number of months or even up to six years. After a few months or years, the cap is removed and a cork and wire cage are planted.
Do take note that secondary fermentation done inside the bottles is only done to high-quality sparkling wines. Bottles of sparkling wines with “Charmat” written means that the secondary fermentation was done in a large tank, and signals that the wine is of inferior quality.
Compared to other alcoholic beverages, champagne is a lesser calorie option. A single glass of Champagne consists only of 84 calories.
Perfect Food Pairings
Aged cheese such as Parmesan, Gouda, or Cheddar is perfect to pair with champagne.
Creamy kinds of pasta or risotto also work well, although dishes with tomato-based sauces are not ideal, due to the incompatibility of tomatoes with the acid level of champagne.
Sparkling wines are a staple to every party. With its content, it is sure to keep the festivities going. In case you need some for an upcoming celebration, try out some of our selection of premium sparkling wine and champagne.