“Sparkling wines” – a category that broadly covers any and all wines that are carbonated. These wines are sometimes referred to as bubbles, Champagne, the fizzy stuff, Prosecco, Cava, etc.
With so many different names associated with these wines, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The names alone can deter anyone from trying a new wine – just for fear of using the wrong name. Name aside, you also have the misconception that sparkling wine is reserved for special occasions only.
I’m here to clear some confusion on this whole “Champagne” matter and to deliver some good news: these wines are for everyday enjoyment!! Let’s bust the special occasion myth – these wines are just too delicious to reserve for a few days out of the year!
So what exactly is ‘sparkling wine’ and why does the name change? To quote a celebrity realtor from HGTV, “Location! Location, Location!” The name of the bubbly stuff is actually referring to where it came from. In America, it’s common for any and all wines that are carbonated to be referred to as Champagne, but Champagne is only one small slice of the ‘sparkling wine’ pie. True Champagne technically only comes from Champagne, France. For some reason, it’s an adopted term almost used as slang in the States. Here’s a list of some of some of our favorite sparkling wines and the names that make them unique to their part of the world. You’ll be sure to impress your dinner guests with these tidbits of sparkling wine knowledge at your next gathering!
Fore-note: All of these wines are under the ‘sparkling wine’ umbrella, but here’s what they’re referred to in their specific region!
This comes from one place, and only one place; Champagne, France. That’s right, there’s an actually town named Champagne. Just like Stuttgart would be to us Arkansans. Where we’ve got it covered on the rice front, Champagne grows some very special grapes making the world’s most elite sparkling wines! Farming standards are held very high in Champagne, from yields to gentile grape pressing and even minimum bottle age time. Longer aging allows Champagnes to develop their signature baked bread notes! There are boucoups of producers making the good stuff, but we thought we’d feature one of our favorites: Taittinger. They’re the largest Champagne producer that’s still family owned. If you’re ever in doubt whether a bottle of bubbles is Champagne or not, just check the label. Only true Champagnes can legally have the name Champagne, France on the bottle!
We Recommend Trying: Taittinger Brut NV
SALE $39.98, Regular $74.99
While France has a specific name for their bubbles, so does Italy – Prosecco! Prosecco derives its name from the village of Prosecco near Trieste. This particular bottle of bubbles is made with less carbonation than Champagne because they typically use the tank method. Because of this, Proseccos are produced much faster and have lively fresh fruit profiles. It’s tasty on its own and great for mimosas and cocktails like the French 75. This wine is a must-try if you typically find Champagnes a little too tart. Typically, Proseccos showcase a softer fruit profile, and tone down the ‘baked bread’ profile, making them much friendlier crowd pleasers.
We Recommend Trying: La Gioiosa Prosecco Superiore
SALE $11.98, Regular $14.99
Cava hails from Catalunya Country in Spain. Cava is delicious, inexpensive (typically under $15) and gives Champagne a run for its money! The method of production for Cava is actually very similar to Champagne. The main difference is it’s not aged nearly as long in the bottle compared to its French counterpart. The grapes in this wine are local too, showcasing Spain’s bounty. Cavas are a happy medium between Champagnes and Proseccos. They express more carbonation and acidity than Proseccos but less baked bread notes than Champagne. These wines are so tasty and inexpensive they’re worth cracking open every day! That’s right, no waiting around for special ocassions!
We Recommend Trying: Conquilla Brut Cava
SALE $12.99, Regular $16.39
Cremant refers to a group of sparkling wines found in France outside of the Champagne region. These sparkling wines specialize in regional grape varieties. This means you can sip bubbles from Burgundy, Alsace, Bordeaux, Loire, and Limoux and delight in a range of flavor profiles. Cremant wines are delicious and, thankfully, fall in a lower price-point than Champagne (but made with the same Champagne method). This means Crémant wine growers must follow rules such as picking grapes by hand and delicate grape pressing. You could say that this category of sparkling wine is great for Champagne lovers on a budget! Budget aside, this is an amazing category to explore. You could center your next wine tasting on just Cremants!
We Recommend Trying: Albert Bichot Cremant de Bourgogne Brut
SALE $18.98, Regular $24.99
All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price. Products and prices are subject to change.