What is Sparkling White Wine?
Sparkling wines are made throughout the winemaking world. France is the most obvious example with the famous products from the Champagne regions of Reims and Epernay. The knowledge of sparkling wine has been around since antiquity but was considered, for a long time, as a faulty wine. An English scientist named Christopher Merret documented the process of adding sugar during fermentation creating sparkling wine in the mid 1600s. Whereas the first recorded sparkling wines in the French region of Limoux are from 1531.
What gives Sparkling Wine bubbles?
Today the Champagne method of making sparkling is called méthode champenoise. This name is only applied to sparkling wine under Champagne restriction. Under EU laws, if this method is used outside of the Champagne controls is called méthode traditionnelle or ‘traditional method’. The Champagne method involves disgorgement or removing the non-soluble elements or ‘lees’ from the wine to make it clear. The size and consistency of the bubbles in a glass of Champagne can be an indicator of quality. Steady steams of small bubbles are desirable.
Common Sparkling White Wine styles
The bubbles in sparkling wine can be achieved by a number of methods. The results can be different in terms of the size and consistency of the bubbles as well as the sweetness or dryness of the wine. The most common styles are Champagne and Prosecco.
Champagne is the most famous wine in the world. Synonymous with celebration and luxury, it is the stuff of history and legend. The Champagne wine style has been imitated and honored in most regions where white wine is produced.
Prosecco Spumante is the most famous Italian sparkling white wine and is also the biggest competitor to Champagne. Known universally as Prosecco, the secondary fermentation process occurs in stainless steel barrels and the wine is bottled under pressure. As a result, the bubbles are much lighter and frothier then other sparkling white wines.
Pairing food with Sparkling White Wine
Sparkling white wines are great with amuse-bouches and canapés. Lighter mouthfuls like sushi, sashimi or a fresh salad with radishes are also pleasant accompaniments. With main meals, a dry sparkling with some character can go quite well with chicken or game birds. If the full French experience is required, Champagne and macaroons are a shortcut to Gallic, gastronomic bliss.
Notable Sparkling White Wine regions
House of Arras, Australia
House of Arras in Tasmania produces some of the most exciting sparkling white wines in Australia using the méthode traditionnelle. To give their wines a distinct, world class quality and maturity, the entire portfolio of the wines are held back between 3-10 years.
Reims and Epernay, France
France's Reims and Epernay are two regions which are world renowned for their Champagne. Only bottles produced here can legally carry the regions name. Here, winemaking traditions are still very similar to those used in the late 1920's.
The future of Sparkling White Wine
With the House of Arras and Seppelt leading the way with sparkling white wine, the future is looking bright for Australian bubbles. Both winemakers along with many other Australian producers continue to make exceptional wines growing both domestic and international markets.
Australian sparkling is unlikely to overtake the popularity of Champagne with its history and prestige. However, a growing appreciation of quality and craft in Australian sparkling means more wine lovers will celebrate occasions that mean the most with sparkling wines from closer to home.