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A Sparkling Wine Primer

A seismic shift has been occurring over the years in how we think of sparkling wines. Sipping them just for special occasions is now an old school of thought. As we become more aware of how food-friendly bubblies are, we’re ordering them with our meals, with appetizers and at after-work happy hours. Still, nothing says “Holidays!” like a glass of beautiful, energetic, effervescent sparkling wine. Here are some tips in choosing the right one for you.

If you’re looking for complexity, try Champagne.

There are lots of different flavors in France’s flagship offering, especially honey, vanilla, sometimes a pleasant baked bread note. The driest (and food-friendliest) is Brut. Extra-Dry, ironically a touch sweeter and richer than Brut, but still dry. It is versatile and stands alone very well.

Tip: if you see a tiny “RM” on the label, you’re holding what’s known as a grower Champagne. It was made by one grower, in small batches, from one vineyard. Give a grower a try — they are low production and highly crafted with a unique terroir (taste of place)! Gaston Chiquet Champagne is a great example.

If you’re looking for clean, tart and straightforward, try prosecco.

Made with the glera grape of northern Italy, prosecco is linked to simplicity. Often displaying peach flavors and famed for abundant persistent bubbles, Italy’s sparkler is happy on its own or perfect as a go-to for cocktails, like in these Mango Mimosas. Presto Prosecco is a delicious example.

If you’re looking for a touch of the exotic, try cava.

Spain’s contribution to the world of bubblies is cava. Bold, forward flavors here, often lovely floral aromas and notes of green apple and citrus. A great option when you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path. Cava’s aromatics and acidity pair well with spicy foods.

Sparkling wines from other parts of the world equal variety.

Bubblies from Australia, South Africa and the US often rival Europe’s spritzy superstars in flavor and food-friendliness and sometimes at a lower cost. Chat with one of our experts in the wine department — they really know their stuff and will happily guide you to your sparkling soulmate.

Honeyed Beet Sparklers

Here are a few more bright and beautiful sparkling wine cocktails that will lend an air of festivity to any occasion:

Any new discoveries in your sparkling wine world? We’d love to hear about them in the comment section below. Cheers!

We are prohibited by law from selling alcohol in some of our stores.