We all deserve to drink great wine and picking any wine based on how colourful the label is invariably leads to utter disappointment. We feel that sparkling wines, be it the revered Champagne, the trendy Cremant or the eternally popular Prosecco are a largely unknown quantity to many. It’s a grey area that we feel needs to be demystified. We are not here to get into the finer details and intricacies of the world of sparkling wines… we are here to give an easy to digest starter manual for millennial’s who need to know the basics, where to buy and the tech available to assist with buying wine. Topics we will cover in this post:
This handy guide will outline the different types of sparkling peddled in the UK, how to pick a decent sparkling (so you don’t unsuspectingly purchase cooking wine from your local off license) as well as where to find the best deals and comment from some of our industry friends who are at the top of their game.
There are three key methods for producing sparkling wine. Here goes:
Champagne Method (méthode champenoise) AKA The Traditional Method - This method is the most cost- and labour-intensive, producing bubbly via secondary fermentation in the bottle. Find out more about The Champagne Method here.
Charmat Method AKA The Tank Method - This method ferments in a pressurised stainless steel tank – fresh yeast and sugar is added to the wine, triggering a rapid fermentation. This method of making sparkling wine does not allow the wine time to develop smaller bubbles. Find out more about The Charmat Method here.
Soda Stream method AKA The Carbonation Method - This method does not involve secondary fermentation, but instead the injection of CO2 (carbonation) into the wine. This is the same method used in making Coca-Cola and Iron Bru. The resulting large bubbles are short-lived. Find out more about The Carbonation Method here.
Sparkling Wine Speed Dating
Everyone knows Champagne. It’s the Rolls Royce of the sparkling world. Made with three grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and lesser known Pinot Meunier – Champagne can only carry that name if it is from the region and there are strict controls in place for this. Comparatively, Champagne prices are through the roof, but this is largely reflected by the quality of the product, and the fact that land in the Champagne region is some of the most expensive in the world. Inevitably some of this cost is passed on to you as the consumer.
Another household name, prosecco came like a freight train about a decade ago and has been impossible to stop. Prosecco is a different beast to Champagne, produced in a less labour intensive way (the Charmat Method) and with a less complex and sweeter palate. Its popularity is in no doubt down to its attractive price point and the ease with which it sits on some palates. Prosecco is a player in the sparkling wine category, with the UK outdrinking the US last year.
Less trendy. Far less trendy. Cava’s rep was obliterated in the 1990’s by some dreadful people, drinking dreadful Cava on the Costa Del Sol. These days Cava has quietly been biding its time and is no longer the ugly sister of the category. Production wise Cava has a lot going for it, using several grape varieties for complexity and being produced in much the same way as Champagne. True to form, the price point is good; Cava is the third most popular sparkling in the world.