Wine Q&A: Sparkling Wines

Q: Is Champagne is a place or a wine?

A: Champagne is a term we all use to describe almost any kind of bubbly, but in fact, it is much more specific than that. Champagne is a region in the North East of France about 75 miles from Paris.  This classic region is planted to grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are gently pressed and turned into a still wine.  Then that wine is blended and bottled where it undergoes a second fermentation to generate the bubbles.  Finally it is given the dosage, a solution of wine and sugar, which determines how sweet the resulting wine is.   Both the growing of the grapes and the production of the wine is all strictly regulated by law.  So while there are many sparkling wines in the world, there is legally only one Champagne!

Q: What is the difference between Champagne, Prosecco, and Sparkling wine?

A: There are many types of Sparkling Wine from classic Champagnes to new world sparklers from California and Australia to sweet Moscatos from Asti in Italy.  Champagne is considered the best, where all the classic producers come from.   Prosecco has come to dominate the lower ranges, with plentiful offerings made from Italy’s Glera grape that are made in large stainless steel tanks.    Californian sparkling wine fills the space in the middle, with offerings made in the champagne style, but are generally less dry due to using riper grapes. Sparkling wine is a big broad category covering everything from Champagne in France, Sekt in Germany, Sparkling Gruner Veltliner in Austria, Cava and Corpinnat in Spain, and more!  Australia, South America, Oregon and Washington all make them too! Red wines can also be made sparkling, to see them in action, check out Sparkling Shiraz from Australia, or for something a bit sweeter, try some Brachetto from Italy’s Piedmont region!

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