There are so many types of sparkling wine. There’s Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Lambrusco, Piquettes, AND Pét-Nats (to name a few). All of them differ in color, dryness, size of bubble, age and taste profile. With all of these different types of wines going on, how do we figure out what is what, where do they come from and how do we open them?! It can get supa complicated, so we’re here to help you dazzle your guests during your next dinner party with your knowledge and bottle opening skills.
HOW ARE SPARKLING WINES MADE?
Well, they usually go through two fermentation processes. One of the fermentations makes the wine, wine. The other fermentation makes the bubbles happen. There are six different ways to produce sparkling wine, but I’m not going to bore you with those explanations (ya welcome). Just know that all of them incorporate multiple fermentations in one way or another.
Champagne: a sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France. Only sparkling wine from this region can be called Champagne. So if you see this on a bottle of sparkling wine from Sonoma, they are lying to you. The three grapes that are used to make Champagne are: Pinot Noir, Pinot Munier and Chardonnay.
Prosecco: a sparkling wine from Veneto, Italy. Prosecco is made only with the Glera grape.
Cava: a sparkling wine from Spain. The three grapes that are used to make Cava are Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.
Lambrusco: a sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The four grapes that are used to make Lambrusco are Maestri, Marani, Montericco, and Salamino.
Piquette: a low alcohol sparkling (sometimes still) wine made from leftover grape pomace (whatever is left of the grapes after they’re fermented). So, the grapes are used to ferment a wine and they take whatever is left over and ferment a completely different wine, called Piquette. This results in a tasty day time sipper, that is light, easy and breezy. Any grape can be used to make one of these.
Pétillant Naturel or Pét-Nat: french term that roughly translates to “naturally sparkling.” This is what all the cool kids seem to be sippin on right now. Pet-Nat’s are different from other sparkling wines because they are bottled during first fermentation. They don’t go through a second fermentation like all of the others.
PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION
Ever wondered how to open a bottle of sparkling wine like a pro? First thing to remember is it’s important to be safe, people! Have you ever opened a bottle of sparkling wine and the cork blew off the top sooo fast, wine spraying everywhere? I have… accidentally. And, the wine ended up spraying guests at the bar… on valentines day. How romantic…
The reason I’m sharing my mistake with you all is because you have to be very careful when opening these babies up! They are poppin’. It’s important to chill your bottles thoroughly before opening. I can’t stress this enough.
Then when opening, make sure you loosen the cage around the cork, but don’t take it off completely. The cage acts as a protective barrier and helps you grip the cork. Keep your thumb pressed tightly onto the cork. Never take your hand off of the cork. This is also a mistake that happens often.
When you’re ready to open the bottle, hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle. Keep pressure on the cork with your thumb while you start to gently wiggle and twist the cork. You will begin to feel the cork wanting to come out of the bottle. Slowly release the cork, while still keeping a little bit of pressure on it. Gently guide the cork out of the bottle. You will hear a little hiss, as pressure begins to release itself.
Et voila! You did it! Now you’re an expert on all things sparkling wine, from knowledge to bottle opening etiquette. Now, pour yourself (and your guests) a glass. You earned it!
By: Kirsten McLaren
OUR CURRENT FAVS
Neon Eon 2020 Side Mirror Zweigelt Pet Nat. Three days of maceration and bottled at a slightly higher brix level than last year this version has it all: more bouncy cherries, watermelon and strawberries supported by that electric acidity that makes you reach for a top up.
Champagne Blanc de Noirs Brut. 100% pinot noir, this Blanc de Noirs was fermented in stainless steel and bottled unfined. Elegant, bone dry, and fresh, it offers up classic texture and a lengthy finish. Certified biodynamic.
Vína Herzánovi 2020 Rose Pet Nat. High-jump into ripe red berries, with an extra layer of delicate spice.