Palate Practice

tasting with intention

The Bubbles Have Gone to my Head

I have to be honest with you, I love me some bubbles.

A few years ago I went through an extensive bubbly phase. Bubbly for any occasion, big or small (and sometimes made up), bubbly with any food imaginable (I still stand by that one), bubbly at any time of day/night/year.

YOU GET SOME BUBBLY! AND YOU GET SOME BUBBLY!

I defy you to pop open a bottle with some popcorn or potato chips and not tell me I just blew your mind. Bubbles really are the best!

But – and pay attention, because this is important – not all bubbly is Champagne.

Say it with me now – not all bubbly is Champagne!

There are many kinds of sparkling wine out there, but only a very small section of it is Champagne. Champagne is sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France. Made from mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, it also involves some very particular methods of production. In fact, the Champagne wine-making community is pretty feisty about it – they even created a professional association to formally set the rules of making Champagne. Serious business!

I know what you’re thinking. If the wine makers in Champagne are that intense about what they do nothing else must be able to compare, right? Wrong. There is a lot of sparkling wine out there that doesn’t come from Champagne, and let me tell you – it’s delicious!

 

Cava

Cava is sparkling wine that comes from Spain. I love Cava because I find it more dry and less sweet than other sparklings. Cavas also have the added advantage of being much less expensive than Champagnes.

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Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava

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Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava

 

Prosecco

Sparkling wine from Italy. I find Prosecco sweeter than other sparklings, and (though I have no scientific evidence to back this up) I find the bubbles to be a little bigger, which isn’t my preference. Of course, I will take most any bubbly over any other drink, so take that as you will. Like Cavas, Proseccos tend to be on the more affordable end of the scale.

 

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Astoria Prosecco

 

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Blue Giovello Prosecco (love that blue bottle!)

 

Crémant

Crémants are sparkling wines that come from anywhere else in France other than Champagne. Among others, there is Crémant d’Alsace (from the Alsace, duh), Crémant de Loire (from the Loire region just southwest of Paris), and, my favourite, Crémant de Bourgogne (from the Burgundy). I love Crémants because their bubbles are so small, the lovely dry wine just fizzes on your tongue and then drifts away. As soon as I finish I a sip I want more! I heartily suggest keeping an eye out for these wines at your local LCBO. While generally more expensive than Cava or Prosecco, a good Crémant still won’t set you back as far as a bottle of Champagne would.

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Chateau de Montgueret Cremant de Loire Brut

 

Canadian Sparkling Wine

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the solid sparkling wines our own country’s winemakers create. Canadian sparklings can be delicious and I recommend giving them a try, especially the ones from the Niagara region. My only caveat here is that Canadian sparklings, while delicious, are fairly high priced – they usually fall between Crémants and Champagnes on the price scale.

As you can see, I love me some bubbles.


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6 Comments

  1. Ima gonna try me some Crémant – new to me!

  2. I like sparkling wine, but I’ve never had it with chips or popcorn. I usually save it for special occasions, but now I will have to try it with snacks.

  3. Since there’s such a variety in the prices of sparkling there’s room to experiment with the sweet/salty fun and still reserve some sparklings for special occasions. Yay for trying something new!

  4. Thank you for clearing up the debate on bubbly nomenclature once and for all!

    I think the strict rules about sparkling wine being called Champagne only came into effect about 5 years ago? Does that sound about right?

    • I think the rules have been around much longer than that. The Champagne region’s boundaries have been identified since at least the 1920’s, but the rules got some tweaks (and subsequent blitzes on upholding these tweaks) in the 2000’s. From everything I’ve read the makers in that region feel very protective over their wine!

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