Champagne is of such preeminence that many still refer to any sparkling wine as a 'champagne'. However, there are so many different types of sparkling wine from all over the world you shouldn't miss.
It was Napolean who said “in victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it”. Alas, some of the parties you will have had in your life will no doubt feel as if they had been planned with Napoleonic military precision and that the popping of the cork certainly represented a moment of either celebration or well needed commiseration.
However! As much as I do very much enjoy Champagne, we shouldn't forget there is a whole world of sparkling wines out there to be enjoyed.
Here's a tiny look at some of the options:
Cava – Spanish Sparkling Wines
Cava is produced in about the same volumes as Champagne, but interestingly does not come from a single region; you won’t find “Cava” on a map. Most Cava is dry with medium acidity and takes on a slightly smoky character from its time on Lees rather than the bread and toast character of Champagne. (‘Lees contact” refers to the time the wine sits with the dead yeast that was used during the wine making process. The length of time of this contact adds more yeast-like characteristics, such as bread.)
Cava is very versatile, but do try it with some authentic Iberico ham and Manchego cheese.
Prosecco – Popular Italian Sparkling
Prosecco is enjoying a considerable renaissance, much due to its light, fruity and slightly sweet style. Drunk young and fresh, it proves popular as a quaffable and enjoyable aperitif or with desserts. In general, the higher residual sugar means that it can compliment sweet puddings.
Blanquette de Limoux – Southern France Sparkling
Blanquette de Limoux is an appellation for sparkling wines from an area of southern France in the Pyrenean foothills, just south of Carcassonne. 'Blanquette' is a local name for the Mauzac grape variety, from which these wines are predominantly made.
Local people actually claim that their sparkling wines pre-date those of Champagne, and in keeping with their ancient traditions, wines are still made that produce slightly sweeter, lower-alcohol sparkling wines. They are cloudy in appearance because they are left with their lees even after the secondary fermentation.
Sparkling wines from Chile
Chile is known for producing great wines at affordable prices. I know that the festive season can be a protracted and expensive affair, and so to keep everyone’s glasses topped up with something fun can be a wallet buster. However, one of the most important things about Sparkling wines is simply the visual impact, and as long as you have something light, bubbly and drinkable in your glass, you’ll find most people are sincerely happy enough.
Enjoy celebrating (or commiserating) with any of these bubbles!