The New Year is coming to an end and its’ time to begin a new chapter and celebrate the occasion. While sparkling bubbly wine is the classic wine to toast the occasion, which one will you chose? We often refer to all sparkling wines as Champagne, which isn’t technically correct and doesn’t do justice to the wide variety of effervescent flavors that can be found in Sparkling wines, like the popular Champagne, Prosecco or Cava. Each of these wines originate from different growing regions and different climates, which make for unique and oh so tasty wines. While all of these wines are fun to try, knowing a little about them will help you pick the perfect wine to toast to your New Year.
What is Sparkling Wine?
Before we delve into the different types of sparkling wine, let’s start with the simple question of "what is sparkling wine?" Simply put, a sparkling wine is wine that is carbonated, which gives the wine it’s bubbly effervesce. There are different methods used to introduce the bubbly carbonation into the wine, which affects not only how the wine is made and bottled and what the wine is called, but how it tastes. Sparkling wines not only have aromas and flavors, they also have tactile characteristics as you can hear the wine fizz and bubble in the glass and experience the dynamic effervesce in your mouth.
While the different methods produce flavor differences, the biggest differences in sparkling wines comes from the wine growing regions and the grapes used to make the sparkling wine. Champagne, Prosecco and Cava all come from different wine growing and making regions, use different grapes and are all regulated by governing boards to ensure that what you taste in every glass is an authentic regional wine made to a specific standard.
Difference Between Sparking Wine & Champagne
While Champagne is the name commonly used for sparkling wine, Champagne is actually a sparkling wine made in France. Champagne comes from the Champagne region in France and the grapes, methods and wine making process all conform to the rules of the Appellation d’Origine Controlee or AOC.
The AOC is based on the concept of terrior and regulates and certifies wines like Champagne based on a geographical location. Champagne is a blended sparkling wine and is made primarily from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. In order to make specific Champagnes consistent in flavor, multiple vintages can be mixed. Champagne is known for its characteristic floral flavors as well as hints of buttery brioche, pear and citrus.
What is Prosecco
Like French Champagne, Italian Prosecco is made under the wine making rules and geographical locations as outlined by the Denominazione di Origine Controllata or DOC and the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, DOCG.
DOCG Proseci is made under very strict regulations and geographical locations. Prosecco is available in 3 levels of effervescence: sparkling, semi-sparkling and still (not bubbly) and is made primarily from Glera grages. Glera grapes give Proseci its golden, pale-straw color and distinct floral aromas and sweet flavors of honey, citrus, apple and a light minerality.
Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine produced from vineyards in Catalonia. The word "Cava" was given to the Spanish wine to distinguish it from French Champagne and was from the caves cellars used in Catalonia to age the wine. Cava is made under the wine making rules and geographic designation of the Denominacion de Origen or DO.
Cava can be a white sparkling wine or a rosé. Cava is primarily made from 3 Spanish grapes; Xarel-lo, Parellada, and Macabeu. The Chardonnay grape can also be used, and these grapes give Cava a dry crisp palate with floral and lemony flavors. Rose Cava is made by adding Garnacha, Monastrell and Cabernet, which add color and deeper flavors of berry and spice.