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TheWineBuyingGuide.com

Types of Wine: Sparkling Wine and Champagne

Learn all about Champagne, Prosecco, and other sparkling wines.

By: Kristin Anderson, Editor, TheWineBuyingGuide.com

Updated May 19, 2017
Types of Sparkling Wine and Champagne
Types of Sparkling Wine and Champagne
This image courtesy of thewinebuyingguide.com

Sparkling wine is any wine that's bubbly. It can be white wine, red wine, or rosé, and it is made all over the world.

Sparkling wine is perfect for celebrating. It’s practically a necessity at weddings, the holidays, and other festive events. During these celebrations you may be having too much fun to focus on the sparkling wine, but there is actually a lot to learn about this fizzy beverage.

Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, and other sparkling wines all have different flavors and are made in different ways. They also come from different parts of the world, which can help you match sparkling wine with food. For example, did you know that Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain? It’s sublime with tapas and as an ingredient in sangria!

When you go to the store to pick up a bottle of sparkling wine, you will see a wide range of labels and price points. To get started, here's some information on what labels may mean.

Types of Sparkling Wine

  1. Champagne
    Champagne is sparkling wine that is made in the Champagne region of France. Although many people colloquially call any sparkling wine Champagne, that’s not always correct. Champagne is the most famous type of sparkling wine, and usually the price reflect that (i.e. it is often expensive).

  2. Cava
    Cava is sparkling wine from Spain. Cava actually makes one of the best sparkling wines for mimosas!

  3. Prosecco
    Prosecco is sparkling wine from Italy, made using the Charmat (tank) method of fermentation. We have more information on the Charmat method below!

  4. Metodo Classico
    Metodo Classico is sparkling wine from Italy, made using the classic method of fermentation.

  5. Sekt
    Sekt is German or Austrian sparkling wine that is fermented in the classic method.

  6. Espumante
    Espumante is Portuguese or Argentinian sparkling wine that is fermented in the classic method.

  7. Crémant
    Crémant is French sparkling wine that is made outside of Champagne.

What’s the difference between the classic and Charmant (tank) method of fermentation?

Sparkling wine made in the classic method essentially involves doing a second fermentation inside each 750ml bottle of wine. Yeast and sugar are added to the base wine, and then the sealed bottle has to be rotated and shaken over a period of weeks or months. Then the residual clump of yeast has to be removed and the bottle resealed. This time-intensive method is often reflected in the price point of sparkling wines produced using the classic method.

The tank or Charmant method also uses a second fermentation, but the wine is still in a large tank instead of individual bottles. This makes the agitation and bottling processes much more efficient and cost-effective.

Which of these methods is better? Sparkling wine makers tend to swear by one or the other – the difference is likely unimportant for the average consumer. However, if you are looking for a sparkling wine experience that most closely resembles drinking Champagne, look for wines made using the classic method.

The dryness of your sparkling wine is likely to be more noticeable to you. Here are some terms to look for on sparkling wine labels.

  1. Brut or Extra Brut
    This is a very dry sparkling wine. Expect “Extra Brut” to be dryer than “Brut," but on the whole both of these will have little sweetness and high acidity. Brut pairs well with food because of its dryness.

  2. Extra Dry
    Surprisingly, Extra Dry sparkling wine is less dry (i.e. sweeter) than Brut. It has just a touch of sweetness, but isn’t too sweet.

  3. Sec
    Sec is sweeter than Extra Dry.

  4. Demi-Sec
    Demi-Sec is a sweet sparkling wine. It is often served with dessert.

If you keep all of this in mind for your next bottle of bubbly, you’ll be able to pick out the perfect sparkling wine for your next special occasion. Have fun!

Great Sparkling Wines, Champagne, and Prosecco from our Wine Catalog

What are your favorite types of sparkling wine, champagne, or prosecco? Comment below with your recommendations!

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When I was recently 21, my roommate and I wanted to make some mixed drink that called for sparkling wine. So, I'm in the sparkling wine aisle at Binny's, completely clueless, and wondering what the difference between sparkling wine and champagne is. I called my dad and asked. He told me they were the same, except champagne came from a specific area in France. THEN, when I got home and was trying to open it, I had no idea how. So I called him again and he walked me through it and somehow it's way easier than opening a corked wine bottle. All you need is a rag and a twisting motion. But I'd seen people burst open champagne bottles and it explode everywhere, which I didn't want to happen in my house, so I opened my back door and aimed the bottle outside just in case. The cork came out easily and didn't spray anywhere. Thanks, Dad!

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