Get ready to toast your loved ones and ring in the new year with a glass of bubbly, but not just any bubbly—the right champagne or sparkling wine for your budget and occasion. The good news is that you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on a bottle of Cristal from France. There are plenty of affordable options that will give you the same festive experience without breaking the bank. In this guide, we'll breakdown the similarities and differences between the various bubbly options and help you decide on the best glass to enjoy it in.
Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, or Sparkling Wine?
While Champagne has long been considered the standard bearer of quality and the only wine worth pouring at a big celebration, Prosecco and Cava – as well as other outstanding sparkling wines – are catching up in popularity. It seems that everyone is starting to realize that just as with all good food, it's quality that matters.
Luckily for all of us, there are more sparkling wine options available than ever before—so how do you know which one to choose?
Prosecco, Cava, Champagne, and Sparkling Wine have marked similarities and differences. The difference in taste between these three wines comes down to how they are made and what they're aged with.
What is Cava?
Cava is a sparkling wine made in Spain. It's made using the same method as Champagne, but since cava comes from Spain and not France, it technically isn't classified as Champagne. Other than that, though, cava has many similarities to Champagne:
- Cava must be made through the traditional method of secondary fermentation in a bottle
- The grapes used must all be harvested at least 30 days before pressing (blancos only). This gives the wine time to ferment slowly over a longer period of time; which gives it more complexity and balance
- It's aged for a minimum of 9 months but can age for up to three years
The bottle must contain at least 4.5 liters of wine. This is the same amount as a standard-size wine bottle.
The bottle must be made of glass and sealed with a crown cap. The label must state that it is a Cava from Spain, the name of the producer, and the vintage year.
Cava tends to be lighter bodied than Champagne or Prosecco, but still quite tasty when served chilled on its own or paired with food!
What is Prosecco?
Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Veneto region of Italy, usually from the Glera grape. It has a light, refreshing taste and is considered a dry wine (not sweet). Prosecco has become increasingly popular over the last few years, especially in the United States.
Made in Italy using the same method as champagne, prosecco is lighter in color than champagne and typically less expensive than other sparkling wines. It also tends to have less alcohol content (11-12 percent) than most champagnes (12-14 percent). Producers sometimes add sugar during fermentation to enhance the taste profile of their proseccos, although many producers claim their products are made without added sugars.
There are many styles of prosecco, including brut (dry), frizzante (lightly sparkling) and dolce (sweet). Some brands also produce a version aged in oak barrels before bottling.
What is Champagne?
Champagne is often considered the most prestigious bubbly in the world, but what makes this beverage so special? The answer lies in its origin story: Champagne is produced in France and falls under the European Union's appellation system—the strictest wine classification in all of Europe. This means that only grapes grown from specific vineyards within certain regions can be used for making champagne (and other sparkling wines), which ensures that every bottle tastes consistent from bottle to bottle—no matter whether you're buying a $12 bottle or a $200 one!
The grapes Pinot noir, Pinot meunier, and Chardonnay are used to produce almost all champagne, but small amounts of Pinot blanc, Pinot gris (called Fromenteau in Champagne), Arbane, and Petit Meslier are vinified as well.
The process of making this bubbly beverage is controlled and heavily regulated by law, which is why every bottle has its own unique blend of bubbles that makes it unique and different from other sparkling wines. To produce champagne’s unique bubbles, the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation process within the bottle. Many champagnes are still aged in caves and are turned periodically. The sparkling wine must be aged for at least 15 months, but many are aged for three years or more.
What is Sparkling Wine?
Sparkling Wine refers to any wine that has been fermented and then bottled under pressure (carbonation). Most of these wines are produced by wineries outside Europe, such as California, Australia, and New Zealand. The most common way to accomplish the sparkling effect (carbonation) is by adding fermenting grapes to bottles before they're sealed and bottled; this causes CO2 to be released into the bottle and build up pressure until it forces its way out of a tiny hole in the cork or cap when opened. This means that all bottles will have bubbles in them! It's important to note that not all wines are automatically considered sparkling, even if they come from France (or other countries known for their quality bubbly). Many wines produced there contain bubbles as a result of being bottled under pressure or containing residual carbon dioxide left over from fermentation; however, these products don't technically qualify as "sparkling" because no additional CO2 was added after bottling.
The next thing we need to know about sparkling wine is how we can tell if something is indeed bubbly or just regular old red table wine with some gas left behind? Luckily there are two easy ways for discerning connoisseurs like yourself: pour your glass slowly at an angle so that both sides get exposed equally; then tilt up gently without sloshing any liquid around too much (this will prevent foam!). If you see bubbles forming on both sides, then congratulations—you've got yourself some good stuff! On top of this test method, sometimes people add sugar directly into their glass before trying it out again because sugar helps bring out flavors present within certain types.
Ready to break out some bubbly on New Year's Eve? Which glasses are best to serve it in?
In general, champagne glasses are divided into three categories: the flute, which is tall and narrow; the coupe, which has a narrower top than bottom like an old-fashioned glass; and the tulip, which is an all-purpose style. There are also many variations on these basic shapes — there are wide flutes and skinny ones; tulips with fatter bottoms or wider bowls — but if you're looking for a good starting point when buying glasses, this will do.
The best thing about drinking bubbly from a glass that's been specifically designed for it is that every sip you take will taste exactly as it should — with no interference from other flavors in your mouth (like food) or from other bubbles hitting your tongue at different times (like when using non-champagne glasses).
Here's what each type of glass offers:
- Flute1: The champagne flute is a stem glass with either a tall tapered conical shape or elongated slender bowl, generally holding about 6.1 to 10.1 US fl oz of liquid. This inward taper is designed to retain champagne's signature carbonation by reducing the surface area for it to escape. Nucleation in a champagne glass helps form the wine's bubbles; too much surface area allows carbonation to fizzle out quickly. More bubbles create greater texture in the taster's mouth, and a flute's deep bowl allows for a greater visual effect of bubbles rising to the top. The flute's narrow cross-section also minimizes the oxygen-to-wine ratio, which enhances both the wine's aroma and taste.
- Coupes1: The champagne coupe is a shallow, broad-bowled saucer-shaped stemmed glass generally capable of containing 6.1 to 8.1 US fl oz of liquid. The coupe was fashionable in France from its introduction in the 18th century until the 1970s, and in the United States from the 1930sto the 1980s. Coupes are also often used for cocktails served up in lieu of a cocktail glass on account of the latter glass's greater propensity to spilling
- Tulip1: Champagne is also served in a tulip glass. The white wine tulip is distinguishable from the champagne flute by its wider flared body and mouth. Some oenophiles prefer the tulip glass, as it permits the drinker to get more of the aroma than a traditional flute while the mouth is still narrow enough to avoid quick loss of carbonation.
Take your celebration to the next level with our Pink Champagne Flutes or Pink Champagne Coupes.
Hopefully, we've helped dispel some of the confusion about what kind of bubbly you should serve at your New Year's Eve party. Now it's time to get festive and have fun! Happy New Year from Sister.ly Drinkware!
1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne_glass