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guide to champagne and sparkling wine

Pop the Cork on New Year’s Eve … Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Champagne, Sparkling Wine
The other day a friend and me were talking about New Year’s Eve.  She said, “Should I serve Champagne or sparkling wine”?  My immediate response was, “Champagne is a form of sparkling wine. It all depends upon what you like.”  She gave me a puzzled look, and said “oh ok.”  Thinking about my response I should have provided a better explanation.  I realized she did not know Champagne is among the sparkling wine family.  She thought Champagne is different from sparkling wine.  Champagne has become the brand name for requesting sparkling wine. It is like when you ask someone to hand you a Kleenex®.  You are really asking for a tissue and not the brand Kleenex®.  The brand name has been ingrained in everyday vernacular. 

Champagne has very distinctive characteristics, fermentation methods, and regional restrictions. Here is the Reader’s Digest® version about Champagne.  Champagne is made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.  There is a double fermentation method known as Methode Champenoise.  Lastly,and most importantly to the French and legally,  only sparkling wine produced in the La Champagne region can be called Champagne (except for a few California vineyards.  That is another blog).

 

 

Now you know, what do you serve? You have a variety of sparkling wines to select. In addition to Champagne,  there are other sparkling wines styles like Cava and Prosecco. Cava is from Spain. Prosecco is from Italy. Each of these regions have unique grapes that make up the composition of these wines.   

 

 

Regardless of the country, there are common descriptions you will see on the label.  Here are the most common:

  • Blanc de Blancs: made from white grapes, like a Chardonnay.  
  • Blanc de Noirs: made from black grapes, like a Pinot Noir. The sparkling will be white in color.  
  • Rose: pink in color.  Semi-dry to sweet to the taste.
  • Doux: very sweet wine.
  • Dry: slightly sweet wine.  
  • Brut: very little sugar, dry and most popular sparkling wine

 

 

Your sparkling wine does not have to be international. When you are in your local wine store ask for Maryland sparkling wine.  It is not too late for the wine shop to order it from the vineyard.   
Crow Farm and Vineyard (Kent County, MD) has a delightful 2013 Vidal Sparkling. It is a Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Winesingle varietal wine. Vidal Blanc grape is used, very popular in Maryland.  Vidal Blanc is known for its honeysuckle favor and those with a sweeter palate enjoy this grape.  Do not let this dissuade the traditional drier palate drinkers. The Vidal Sparkling is a dry sparkling wine.  Effervescent, pale golden color, and hints of stone fruit and apple best describes this wine.  The Vidal is made in the Methode Champenoise style sparkling goes through primary fermentation in stainless steel, followed by a secondary fermentation in bottle. Aged for 13 months before being hand disgorged in small lots, then hand corked, caged and labeled.  
Hopefully, this will make your shopping experience a little easier. Cheers to you and Happy New Year!

 

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