Bubble troubles? Read on.
So you’re at dinner and desperate for some bubbly. But this time you’re determined to avoid ad hoc recommendations. You’re going to order it yourself and it’s going to be the best feeling ever. The only problem is when you’re handed the menu, the choices are dumbfounding. I mean all you wanted was a little champers to get over the rough week—who on earth is Mousseux and what does he have to do with anything?!
Fear no more. Here are some quick pointers to keep in mind the next time you want to pick the bubbly bottle of your dreams.
Here’s the one thing that differentiates Champagne from all other sparkling wines: it is made in Champagne, a wine region in northeastern France. Literally, this is it. France produces other sparkling wines like the above Mousseux and Crémant, but Champagne is the Chanel of the Francophones (double pun) and the grape world in general. An old world (Continental Europe) stalwart, champers is, for most wine drinkers, sommeliers, and wine connoisseurs the top of the totem pole. Think Moët & Chandon and its vintage line, Dom Pérignon, or Ludacris’ rap-time favourite, Veuve Clicquot. (Either that or some Veuve Clicquot/And on that note, ‘adios amigos’). Basically, you’re looking at dropping big bucks for these femmes. You ready for that? Maybe, maybe not. Because there are some stellar sparklers that are just as top class, and very much easier on your wallet.
For a different kind of sparkly/sizzly, opt for a Cava or a Prosecco, the bubblies of Spain and Italy, respectively.
Cava is made in the Catalonia region in northwestern Spain. Think Costa Brava, Barcelona, and Salvador Dali. A light, fun, and economical range, Cavas are GREAT to pop for a birthday toast, anniversary dinner, or just cause you’re making crab cakes and the combination lights your soul on fire.
Prosecco is made in the northeastern Veneto region of Italy. Here, the Dolomites, [The Merchant of] Venice, and of course George and Amal Clooney come to mind (c’mon — their Italian nuptials pretty much make them citizens). A heavily argued point, most bubbly drinkers find Prosecco a little easier on the palette, making it ideal for all day/every day consumption. Don’t mistake Prosecco’s versatility for low quality — this is a prima donna you’re never wanna let go…and it’s the perfect picnic basket accompaniment.
There, you have the most important facts down. Now, glancing through the menu, you know:
Champagne = sparkling wine made in France
Cava = sparkling wine made in Spain
Prosecco = sparkling wine made in Italy
There’s just one other facet you need to pick out your bottle. Forget about the vintages and grapes—they’re important, but not as important as your taste. Depending on if you like dry or sweet, here are some descriptors to keep in mind:
Champagne & Cava
-These two varieties usually have the following descriptions next to the name. Pick according to your preference:
brut/sec: bone freaking dry.
sec/seco: dry with a slight after-taste of sugar on your tongue.
demi-sec/semiseco: like sugar in tea. You know it’s there, but not the total element.
doux/dulce: You can pretty much skip dessert.
– Usually always dry.
– See DOC or DOCG next to the name? The extra “G” just means it’s ranked one tier higher on the Italian scale of wine. It’s like the difference between Miu Miu and Prada…a little style change, but spot-on quality, regardless.
*Fun fact: The original Bellini was made with Prosecco, not Champagne. Tell that to the guy who’s trying to impress you by ordering Cristal. Culture, not cash, is key.
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