Sparkling wine cocktails, or Champagne as it’s often called, have been gaining popularity in the past few years, and it’s not hard to see why! These unique wines are celebratory in nature and can be enjoyed by the glass at just about any occasion or moment of the day. To help you fully understand this interesting variety of wine, check out these amazing 10 facts about SPARKLING wine!
1) Sparkling wine is made by fermenting the juice of fresh grapes, not pressing them like in red wine
The skins, seeds, and stems of grapes are left intact in sparkling wine, which results in a much more potent flavor. As part of that process, carbon dioxide is added to make bubbles: The fermentation takes place in large stainless steel or glass tanks before being transferred into bottles and sealed with a cork. Sparkling wine usually lasts longer than red wine because it’s protected from oxygen by being bottled while fermenting and stored on its side.
2) The sparkle comes from bubbles added after fermentation by the winemakers
Added carbonation is a key component of sparkling wine. Once fermentation is complete, but before bottling, winemakers will add CO2 (carbon dioxide) and/or SO2 (sulfur dioxide). This process changes the way bubbles behave during an eruption – they hold their shape much longer, creating a continuous stream of tiny bubbles rather than one large one. This slower, more relaxed effervescence gives sparkling wines their appeal.
3) Aged champagne tastes better than young champagne and can be stored for decades
Champagne, like wine or cheese, actually gets better with age. If you want to sip on that young champagne after your big birthday bash, don’t fret—you can keep it in a cellar for a few decades before serving it at your next bash. As long as no one tastes it until then, that is!
4) The largest producer of sparkling wine is France, followed by Italy
In 2010, France produced 2.6 million hectoliters of sparkling wine—that’s enough to fill over 1.8 billion bottles! Italy comes in second place with 2.2 million hectoliters, followed by Spain at 1.3 million and the United States at 900,000 (though there is some debate on how much American sparkling wine is actually sparkling). The United States is catching up fast: In 2003, the U.S.
5) Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France
Sparkling wine can be made in many countries. In fact, in 2014, more than 70 million bottles of sparkling wine were produced outside of the Champagne region of France. However, only wines designated as Champagne can come from that region. If it doesn’t have Champagne on its label, it probably isn’t champagne!
6) Spain produces more cava Spanish wine than any other country
More than 35 million bottles of cava Spanish wine are produced each year in Spain—enough to satisfy nearly 1% of the world’s annual global thirst. This means that, overall, more Spanish sparkling wine is produced than in any other country! It’s also worth noting that cava is Spain’s fourth most-consumed alcoholic beverage.
7) The oldest still-producing Champagne house was founded in 1584
Created in 1584 by Jean-Baptiste Lanson, Maison Lanson has been producing premium Champagne for over 400 years. The third generation of his family runs the Champagne house today. If you’re looking for a special bottle to celebrate your next anniversary, try their vintage Les Très Rares de Lanson Cuvée Royale 2002.
8) Italy invented Prosecco but doesn’t produce much compared to France
Italians may have invented Prosecco, but France is far and away its biggest producer. The sparkling wine originated in Veneto, Italy’s northeast region, about 200 years ago. However, today it’s mostly produced in Champagne and sold as Champagne because of a dispute between France and Italy over where true Prosecco comes from.
9) In California, brut vs extra dry champagne means less dry than brut
The age-old question is what does brut vs extra dry Champagne mean? California producers tend to use less-demanding terminology than their counterparts in Europe. Brut champagne, for instance, is a drier style of wine in France but is actually on par with semi-dry in America. And extra dry champagne is even less sweet here than it is over there; instead of being bone-dry like its name implies, Californian ‘extra dry’ bubblies are actually very sweet.
10) Is sparkling wine best served chilled or at room temperature if you’re really hungry?
Sparkling wine is best served chilled (45-55 degrees). Room temperature is fine if you’re really hungry and need to pop open a bottle right away. The reason for chilling sparkling wines is that it helps them retain their effervescence longer, which keeps your bubbles bubbly. The colder a sparkling wine is, however, the less it will bubble up in your glass. So don’t be afraid of letting those bubbles warm up a bit before serving!