CheapwineFinder’s Bubbly Basics
1) All Bubbly, whether it is from the Champagne region of France, the Prosecco region of Italy, Cava from Catalonia in Spain or just plain old Bubbly from anywhere, is Sparkling wine. Sparkling wine is called different things in different countries, Spumante in Italy, Cremant in France or Sekt in Germany, but no matter what it’s called it is still Sparkling wine.
2) There 2 main production process’ to add the bubbles, the Traditional Method (in the bottle) and the Charmat Method (in pressurized vats). Since Sparkling wine is fermented twice the grapes are picked before they are fully ripe and after they are fermented the first time, they make a wine that is so sour that you wouldn’t drink it on a dare.
3) In the Traditional Method, the wine from the first fermentation is bottled and before a temporary cap is fixed they add in a measured amount of yeast and sugar. The wine is kept like this for several months to several years, depending on the wine region. Then the dead yeast is removed and some wine is added to top off the bottle and bring the Bubbly up to the desired sweetness level. Sparkling wine from Champagne, Cava from Spain, Franciacorta from Italy, most of the Sparkling wines from Northern California and Gruet Sparkling wines from New Mexico use this method.
4) With the Charmat Method, the wine that has been fermented once is transferred to large pressurized stainless steel vats where sugar and yeast is then added. The 2nd fermentation process is faster, where the 2nd fermentation takes months to years in the Traditional Method, it takes days to a couple of months with the Charmat Method. Prosecco, Asti Spumante, Barefoot Bubbly and Andre’s use this process. The inexpensive Sparkling wines do the short 2nd fermentation and the more expensive Bubbly’s do the longer fermentation. The smaller the bubbles the longer the process.
5) All wine growing countries use both methods to produce Sparkling wine, France is known for Champagne from the Traditional Method, but there are plenty of French Charmat Method Sparkling wines around. The Sparkling wines from Champagne France have an excellent Public Relations department and Champagne is viewed in the market place as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Rolls Royce all rolled up into one. If someone is going to spend big bucks on Sparkling wine, they are going to buy Champagne. That leaves every other Sparkling wine in competition for the middle and the value segments. Now Champagne is good, real good, but they are by no means the only good Sparkling wine on the store shelves. There are a slew of delicious Sparkling wines available that are total bargains when compared to Champagne. Prosecco outsells Champagne in terms of gallons, but since Prosecco costs for a fraction of the price of a bottle of Champagne, Champagne leads in terms of dollars. Try to ignore the marketing and let your taste buds decide which Bubbly is your favorite.