Photo: Jansz Tasmania/Facebook

The Best Sparkling Wines You’re Missing Out on if You Only Drink Champagne

Wine Food + Drink
by Vicki Denig Dec 17, 2018

If there’s only one rule you follow when picking out which wine to drink, it’s this one: When in doubt, reach for the bubbly. Synonymous with celebrations, seasonal parties, and weekend brunches everywhere, a bottle of sparkling guarantees a good time. And the world of sparkling doesn’t stop at Champagne. Sparkling wines are produced all over the world using an array of grape varieties, production styles, and aging techniques. You’re missing out on some of the most exciting wines out there if you only stick to the bubbles you know best.

To experience the sparkling wine spectrum for yourself, taste your way through different regions and styles. Host a sparkling wine party with equally eager bubbly fanatics and make each person responsible for a single style from around the world. Then get to popping and drink your way through the world’s best bubbles.

Consider this your guide to the types of sparkling wine out there that you need to know, because there’s always a reason to crack open a bottle of bubbly.

Crémant from France

According to France’s laws governing wine production, the word “Champagne” may only be used for bottles coming from the Champagne region. However, the Champagne method is used to produce sparkling wine all across the country in nearly every wine producing region of France. Wines produced using this method outside of Champagne are identified as crémants. Alsace, Burgundy, Jura, Limoux, and the Loire Valley are some of the country’s largest producers of crémants, and winemakers in the regions are creating complex, thought-provoking bottles similar to Champagne that come at a fraction of the cost. For Champagne-mood nights on a wallet-friendly budget, crémants are the way to go.

Look for wines from: Lucien Albrecht (from Alsace), Domaine Saint-Rémy (from Alsace), and Domaine André and Mireille Tissot (from Jura)

Prosecco from Italy

Franciacorta wine

Photo: Franciacorta/Facebook

The Veneto region in Italy is the home of prosecco, which are usually some of the more affordable bottles of bubbly. Unlike Champagne, prosecco is made from the glera grape and gets its sparkle from the charmat method, meaning the secondary fermentation that makes the wine sparkling happens in a steel tank rather than in the bottle. Generally, prosecco is bottled young and should be drunk right away. For brunches, holiday parties at the office, or a simple weeknight glass of something sparkly, prosecco is a great choice. For higher-end Italian bubbles produced in the méthode traditionelle, look to prosecco examples from Cartizze, often referred to as the “Grand Cru” of prosecco, or wines from Franciacorta, produced in Lombardy and always via the traditional method.

Look for wines from: Scarpetta, Bisol, Cartizze, and Franciacorta

Espumante from Portugal

Sparkling wine is produced all across Portugal, and is referred to by locals as espumante. The Bairrada and Vinho Verde regions are the country’s two biggest sparkling claims to fame, the former of which is produced via the méthode traditionelle. Vinho Verde, on the other hand, is Portugal’s largest wine producing region and is known for its extremely light, effervescent, and low alcohol wines. Wines from Vinho Verde are always refreshing and affordable, making them the perfect choice for a midday drink.

Look for wines from: Asnella, Alvaianas, and Antonio Lopes

Cava from Spain

Raventos i Blanc wine

Photo: Raventós i Blanc/Facebook

Cava sits at that happy medium between Champagne and prosecco. Hailing from Spain’s Penedes region, cava is produced in the same traditional process as Champagne, but uses indigenous Spanish grape varieties like xarello, macabeo, and parellada. In terms of quality to price ratio, cava might just be the best bang for your buck. Perfect for aperitifs, happy hour with friends, and serving with homemade tapas.

Look for wines from: Suriol, Raventós i Blanc, and Bodegas Naveran

Sekt from Germany and Austria

Sekt is made in both Germany and Austria and is produced in a variety of styles ranging from bone dry to sweet. Sekt wines can be made using either the charmat or traditional method. In Germany, many quality sekt bottlings are based on riesling, pinot blanc, and pinot gris grapes, while Austrian sekt primarily uses welschriesling and gruner veltliner. These bottles of bubbly have a rich history in both countries, dating back to the 17th century. Although these wines may be harder to find than the styles on this list, should one cross your path, we definitely recommend giving it a go.

Look for wines from: Peter Lauer (from Germany) and Jurtschitsch (from Austria)

Undesignated sparkling

Jansz Tasmania wine

Photo: Jansz Tasmania/Facebook

Sparkling wine is, of course, not just limited just to the regions and styles above. There are so many regions across the world putting out stellar bottles of bubbles, including England, the United States, Chile, and Australia. Winemaking countries around the world are producing sparkling wine in a variety of styles and using various methods and grape varieties. These sparkling wines may not have a specific designation, but don’t sleep on them. For high-quality, Champagne-style wine, check out the wines of England, Tasmania, and many wine producing regions across the US, including Oregon, Washington, and California. For fun, fizzy, reds, Australia is your answer.

Look for wines from: Hush Heath Winery (from England), Ninth Island (from Tasmania), Jansz (from Tasmania), Vina Tarapaca (from Chile), and The Chook (from Australia)

Pét-nats from around the world

Although Champagne is the reigning king, pét-nat claims the OG title for sparkling wine. These bottles of bubbles are produced worldwide in a way called méthode ancestrale, which was the first ever way bubbles were put in wine bottles. Pét-nats are made by bottling wines prior to completed fermentation, allowing naturally existing CO2 from the fermentation to be trapped within the bottle. These wines are often naturally cloudy and have a low alcohol percent and low amount of residual sugar. Super easy to drink, these wines are true porch pounders.

Look for wines from: Domaine La Grange Tiphaine (from France), Stolpman (from California), and Channing Daughters (from New York)

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