For simplicity, we divide sparkling wine into two distinct sub-styles: Fruity Sparkling Wine and Complex Sparkling Wines. These include less expensive sparkling wines from France, NZ, and Australia as well as Prosecco and Asti from Italy. Here to help us out is Joelle's Top Ten Tips...
1. Sparkling Wines are growing fast and becoming more popular around the world.
2. Prosecco is now the biggest selling sparkling wine in the world in volume.
3. Champagne remains the most profitable in price.
4. Sparkling wine can be made from any grape but aromatic ones tend to be favoured for light, tank-fermented bubbles like Prosecco (made from Glera) and Asti (made from Moscato).
5.Champagne and traditional method bubbles are made mostly from three key grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier - the two red ones are made without skin contact so that they remain pale ‘white’ wines.
6. Sparkling wine is made in three main ways; with a second fermentation in the bottle (as in Champagne), in stainless steel tanks (Prosecco and others) or carbonated (the cheapest method).
7. Fizziness varies between different styles of sparkling wines due to the way they are made.
8. Champagne and traditional-method sparkling wines are the fizziest and most complex style because they are fermented and aged in the same bottle we purchase them in; the yeast cells (lees) break down after fermentation, releasing stacks of tasty fresh bread-like flavours. It’s costly to create but tasty to drink.
9. Only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region can be called champagne (lower case ‘c’ indicates the generic style of wine whereas capital C refers to the region).
10. Bubbles made using the same winemaking method in other places (even in French areas outside the Champagne region) are called the traditional method or methode traditionelle.
Joelle Thomson is a wine writer, journalist and author. She’s an avid lover of wine and currently writes for Capital magazine, Good magazine, NZ Winegrower, Drinksbiz, and her own site,www.joellethomson.com
She also teaches, works in radio, and more, so we've enlisted her help to sniff out our amazing value wines!