Often synonymous with celebrations or significant events, sparkling wines are always enjoyed with joy and conviviality. So, to avoid spoiling anything at this moment, it is better not to make a mistake in choosing the bottle. To help you find your way, discover all our tips for choosing a sparkling wine .
Sparkling wine: definition
Sparkling, sparkling or sparkling wines are wines that contain carbon dioxide (CO2). Whether it is added, or formed naturally in the wine bottle, it forms these little bubbles that we appreciate so much.
The CO2 in these wines is added or produced during fermentation in the bottle. The excess carbon dioxide pressure then dissolves in the form of more or less fine bubbles . Sparkling wines are opposed to still wines, which have no bubbles.
Generally, sparkling wines have a more pejorative connotation than sparkling wines. However, we will see that they each have their own characteristics.
Sparkling wine, sparkling wine, sparkling wine: what are the differences?
We usually use the term sparkling wine, sparkling wine and sparkling wine to describe all bubble wines. In reality, it's not that simple, and they don't all correspond to the same types of wine.
Thus, bubble wines are part of the sparkling wine family . Within this category, there are then three types of wine:
- Sparkling wines have a carbon dioxide pressure of at least 3 bars;
- Sparkling wines have a carbon dioxide pressure of between 1.5 and 2 bars;
- Perlant wines are distinguished from others because the carbon dioxide comes from alcoholic fermentation, which begins in the vat and ends in the bottle. The transformation of sugars into alcohol produces CO2 in small quantities (0.5 to 1 bar), which is found in wine and which gives a pearl sensation in the mouth.
Choosing a sparkling wine: the main criteria
As with still wine, it is not always easy to choose a good bottle of sparkling wine , as there are so many varieties and vintages. To guide you, here are some criteria to take into account.
Choose your wine based on its bubbles
Generally speaking, and logically, the higher the pressure, the greater the effervescence in the mouth. So, to choose your bottles of sparkling wine, you must ask yourself if you prefer fine bubbles , or strong sparkling sensations . Sparkling wine is then the least powerful, followed by sparkling wine, then sparkling wine.
Choose your wine based on its sugar content
The other important criterion for choosing a sparkling wine is its residual sugar content . The flavors in the mouth will be very different depending on the sugar level. We then distinguish 7 dosages:
- Natural brut wine : 0 to 3 grams of residual sugar per liter;
- Extra-brut wine : 0 to 6 grams of sugar per liter;
- Brut wine : 0 to 12 grams of sugar per liter;
- Extra-dry wine : 12 to 17 grams of sugar per liter;
- Dry wine : 17 to 32 grams of sugar per liter of wine;
- Semi-dry wine : 32 to 50 grams of sugar per liter;
- Sweet wine : more than 50 grams of sugar per liter.
Most sparkling wines are brut wines, because it is the dosage that adapts and appeals to the greatest number of people. So, if you have to choose a bottle, brut champagne or brut sparkling wine are safe bets. The other dosages allow you to select a more personalized bottle, depending on your guests or the dish it will accompany. Very often, semi-dry or sweet wine is served with desserts, for example.
Choose your wine by doing a tasting
Ultimately, the best way to find a sparkling wine that you like is to taste several of them. You can then note what you like or don't like, and thus refine your choice criteria. During a sparkling wine tasting , you can then test several grape varieties (pinot gris, pinot noir, pinot blanc and pinot meunier are the main grape varieties used by sparkling wine producers), several wine regions, several types of wines (sparkling, sparkling, sparkling)...
How are sparkling wines made?
All the great Champagne houses will tell you, there is no single way to make sparkling wine or sparkling wine. There are several techniques, of which here are the main methods.
The Champagne method, or traditional method
The Champagne method and the traditional method are the classic techniques most used for making sparkling wines. Winemakers begin by vinifying a classic still wine, adding stages of clarification and tartaric stabilization, before carrying out a second fermentation in the bottle . This is when what we call foam taking will take place.
Finally, the traditional method and the champagne method use the same techniques. On the other hand, the champenoise method is a term that can only be used in the Champagne wine region.
The ancestral method
The ancestral method is also sometimes called "artisanal method" or "rural method", depending on the wine-growing regions. Unlike the traditional method and the Champagne method, this manufacturing technique works by spontaneous fermentation . In other words, oenologists choose to move on to bottling even before fermentation is complete.
This technique is particularly difficult to master, and few winegrowers apply it. It is found in the Limoux region, or in Gaillac.
The closed tank method
Unlike all other methods, the closed tank method does not produce foam in the bottle, but favors fermentation in tanks . The wine is then placed in a huge pressure tank.
The Dioise method
Another technique for vinifying sparkling wines, the Dioise method is used to make Clairette de Die. It consists of bottling a wine which has not completely completed its alcoholic fermentation.
Inspired by the ancestral method, the Dioise method of incomplete fermentation leaves the sugar to work in the bottle, until the fermentation stops by itself, when the alcohol level reaches 8 degrees. Another particularity: after the mousse has set, emptying the bottles cold is preferred, in order to filter the yeasts.
Champagne and Crémant: what are the differences?
Crémant and Champagne both fall into the sparkling wine category, with more than 4 grams of CO2 per liter. What differentiates them is quite simply their region of production.
Champagne is thus made in the geographical region of Champagne , while crémants rather refer to a production region . This is how we identify several types of crémants: Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Loire, Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux and even Crémant de Savoie.
But there is something else that differentiates Crémant from Champagne: the grape varieties. On the champagne side, winemakers have no choice but to use chardonnay , pinot noir and pinot meunier . These are the only grape varieties authorized by the appellation. Crémant has no constraints from this point of view. Of course, these requirements greatly influence the yield of each vineyard, and therefore the quantity of wine produced. This explains the more prestigious side and superior quality of champagne.
Finally, Champagne wines and Crémants also undergo a different aging period. To obtain the Champagne appellation, the winemaker must then place his wine in aging for a minimum of 12 months , compared to 9 months for the Crémant appellations .
All these differences and these more or less significant constraints often justify the difference in price and quality between the bottles.
Our selection of sparkling wines
The English estates of the MDCV group produce excellent sparkling wines every year, inspired by Alsace grape varieties and the Champagne method.
- Harlot - sparkling white brut: made from pinot noir, chardonnay, bacchus and pinot meunier, this sparkling wine from England is a natural brut wine with small bubbles full of energy. The aromas of apricot, pear and elderflower make it a wine of choice with brunch;
- Harlot - sparkling rosé brut: made from the same grape varieties as Harlot sparkling white, this sparkling rosé wine is distinguished by its aromas of ripe strawberries, red apple and pear. Very festive, this wine from the Charmat method, or Prosecco method, is a sparkling wine that goes with all your favorite dishes;
- Silver Reign - sparkling white: vinified from Champagne grape varieties (pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier), this sparkling white wine received the gold medal at the Effervescents du Monde 2022. With its notes of citrus, pear and green apple, this Kentish wine is drunk very chilled.
Sparkling wines are always guests of choice during happy moments in life. Sparkling wines or sparkling wines, the fine bubbles work wonders and appeal to as many people as possible. For your festive events, don't hesitate to savor the good bottles of sparkling wine from our estates in England .