Most French sparklers outside of Champagne follow the method and general style of their more famous sibling. Typically dry and mildly austere, with lively acidity and mild white fruit flavors. As in Champagne, they may offer yeasty, toasty, or creamy notes depending on the winery.
Spanish sparkling wine, traditionally known as Cava, is typically quite dry, with lean yeasty bread dough aromas and mild apple flavors.
Italy makes a range of sparklers. Two of its most popular, Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, are usually considered dessert wines. Both are made from the very floral Muscat varietal and are semi-sweet, soft, and easy drinking. Moscato d’Asti however is semi-sparkling and lower in alcohol. Prosecco is a lighter-styled highly aromatic sparkler that can either be quite dry or gently fruity and usually is slightly less effervescent than the typical sparkling wine.
Most New World sparkling wines mimic the dry Champagne style and are produced with the same varietals (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier). Many of these wines were brought into existence by Champagne producers looking to expand their production into the New World, especially California. While made in a “Champagne” style, many of these New World examples are slightly softer and fruitier with less austerity than most true Champagnes.
The majority of sparkling wines are considered dry or Brut (the traditional Champagne term) which is often printed on the label. Wines labeled Extra Dry, paradoxically, are sweeter than Brut.
Unlike the majority of vintage-specific table wines, many sparkling wines are a blend of different vintages, or nonvintage. This allows each winery to create a “house style” which typically remains the same year after year regardless of individual vintage conditions.
Blanc de Blancs means that it is produced from 100% white varietals. Blanc de Noirs means that it is produced from 100% black varietals.
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The information presented here is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.