First things first: not all sparkling wine is champagne but all champagne is sparkling wine.
There are several types of sparkling wine but the most common are the U.S. sparkling wine, champagne, prosecco, and cava. Champagne can only be called champagne if it comes from the champagne region in northern France. U.S. sparkling wine or typical champagne is made from a blend of three grapes; chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. If a bottle of Champagne or U.S. sparkling wine is called “blanc de blancs,” this means that it is made exclusively from chardonnay. When champagne or U.S. sparkling wine is called “blanc de noirs,” it’s made exclusively from pinot noir. Prosecco however, is the Italian sparkling wine which is made from the prosecco or glera grape. Cava is the Spanish sparkling wine and is usually made from a blend of macabeu, parellada, and xarello grapes.
Champagne and a majority of U.S. sparkling wines are made using the “methode champenoise,” a very strict set of guidelines and rules developed in France. This method involves creating the effervescence (the bubbles) in the bottle, when it undergoes a secondary fermentation. This process is quite complex, and usually forces the winemaker to handle each bottle a number of times.
Prosecco, and some other sparkling wines, get their bubbles by having the secondary fermentation occur in the giant tank of wine, a process which is called the Charmat method, before being put into a bottle. Some cheap sparkling wines get carbon dioxide pumped into the giant tank just like a soft drink, then get transferred into a bottle.
You can find the sparkling wine you like by going for a wine tasting. Some of the wines will taste bready, some citrusy, while some fruity. Watch out for the classification of sweetness and you will most commonly see sparkling wine labelled “brut” or “extra dry.” Brut should taste dry, with no perception of sweetness and the extra dry tastes slightly sweet. Extra dry is slightly sweeter than brut, with a much softer mouth feel.
A majority of sparkling wine (including champagne) is non-vintage. Meaning, the makers take juice from several different years and blend it together to make the bubbly. This allows the producers of the wine and champagne to keep a consistent flavour profile from year to year. Therefore, when one sees vintage sparkling wine, it means the makers thought that year was a spectacular year and will represent their winery's highest quality. Usually, a non-vintage Ccampagne will cost $50 (Sh5, 000) and a bottle of vintage Champagne from the same winery will cost from $100 (Sh10, 000) to $150 (Sh15, 000).
When looking for an expensive treat, Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs champagne which costs around $40 (Kshs.4,000) per bottle is among the most advised for a fresh and crisp taste, with lemon and tangy citrus flavors.
Moet and Chandon Nectar Imperial is a favourite champagne for many people with taste, and it costs around $50 (Sh5, 000) per bottle and it is soft and sweet with easy flavors of pear, vanilla, and almond.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke