Chink chink! Nothing gives us such a thrill as the clinking of glasses filled with fizz to celebrate something special – even if that’s just the end of a hard week.
When we think of sparkling wine, or as we like to call it ‘bubbles’ most of us jump straight to Champagne. But there are numerous different varieties of sparkling wine out there, all with something to offer, and our mission at Grape People is to introduce you to styles and producers from around the world, often challenging convention and bringing something new to the wine world.
Before you get started uncorking your bubbles, here are a few things to know.
What is champagne?
Champagne is a specific appellation unique to the French region, and there are rules and regulations for its growing and production dictated by the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne. These rules include vineyard yield, pressing, pruning, and the time grapes must be harvested at and must remain on the lees (leaving it in contact with dead yeast cells for at least a year for non-Vintage and three years for Vintage) before being bottled. A typical Champagne is made from a blend of three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, with Blanc De Blanc being solely chardonnay and Blanc De Noirs only made of Pinot Noir.
How is sparkling wine made?
The bubbles in sparkling wine are products of carbon dioxide (CO2). This occurs when the wine is fermented under pressure. And most sparkling wines involve a secondary fermentation, when sugar and yeast are added to a still wine. Traditionally the process involves something called riddling. This is where the bottle is rotated in small increments, to gradually tilt the bottle neck-down ('sur pointe'). This enables sediment to collect in the neck of the bottle, before it is released ready for a clear and crisp wine.
Does price matter?
Price is never the indicator of quality or flavour of wine. You need to consider your palate and what you enjoy drinking. Whether you like biscuit and brioche or deep amber robustness, there’s loads out here. Champagne tends to come with a higher price point, especially when it’s made by the big names. But we love to bring to you the labels that you don’t know, or you cannot find at your wineshop. Rémy Leroy - Brut Nature, NV and Bara Brut Réserve both come from small winemakers in France but with the same production process of famous ones. We enjoy them for a taste that is very light, fresh and unforgettable.
What else is out there?
For those looking for different taste of bubbles or even to discover something new with the same quality of the champagne, we recommend a Espumante from Portugal (Luís Pato Espumante MG, NV or Soalheiro Espumante, Alvarinho, 2017), or the versatile and easy drinking cava from Spain (Babot Cava, NV), or even the Pet Nat from England (Davenport White, 2020), which is perfect for a summer barbecue. It’s the newest bubble in the market, and English sparkling wine is having a moment. particularly in Kent and Sussex, where the organic Davenport Vineyard and Winery is. The Pet Nat is also natural wine ( name means naturally sparkling), made without intervention and only a few bottles are produced per harvest. Special and surprising, it’s both lighter than a champagne (only 8.5%) and easy to drink. The reason is that it has no sugar or preservatives added to it), You’ll probably find that it’s different from all the bubbles you have drunk before!
And of course Prosecco is super trendy right now. Although there are challenger brands, to call itself so, Prosecco must be exclusively made from the white Glera grape in the Veneto and Friuli regions in northern Italy. It is made using the Charmat method, which means that rather than in the bottle it’s moved to a stainless-steel tank to ferment without sediment. We love Sorelle Bronca Modi from the Glera region for the perfect fun fizz. Fresh, dry and fragrant with an intense nose, it's delicious on a hot summer evening as the perfect aperitif, and ideal all year round for a toast. Pop a bottle in your fridge for a spontaneous celebration.
When to drink bubbles?
Sparkling wine and champagne are often used to celebrate a special occasion, gathering people around a bottle and glasses for a toast. But we believe it can work at any time. Whether it’s for a fresh flavour at a barbecue, a party evening, enjoying the end of a hard week and the start of the weekend or marking some good news, there’s always room for some bubbles.
But as a rule, we think you should break rules. Enjoy the fun and enjoy the fizz with your glass of bubbles.