Wine Varieties

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine, produced worldwide but synonymous with French wine, namely varieties from the Champagne regions of Reims & Epernay. View top regions &…

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.

While Champagne may be synonymous with sparkling wine, the history of the wine is somewhat contested. The knowledge of sparkling wine has been around since antiquity but was considered for a long time a fault in the wine. An English scientist named Christopher Merret documented the process of adding sugar during fermentation created sparkling wine in the mid 1600s. Whereas the first recorded sparkling wines in the French region of Limoux are from 1531.

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.’

Champagne is a byword for luxury, largely associated with celebration and success. This easy drinking wine with its association with luxury has made the made it a popular style throughout the world. Winemakers make sparkling wines using various methods, to various tastes. Sparkling wines are favoured for celebrations, aperitifs as well as being used in cocktails.

Most styles are white or in some cases Rosé or pink sparkling wine. However, Australia makes a Sparkling Shiraz. This dramatic looking sparkling red wine is a deep red in colour with a pink-purple mousse.

How to pronounce Champagne

Champagne is a French name for the region and the sparkling wine it produces. It is pronounced Sham-pain.

Style of sparkling

From sweet to dry and white to red, sparkling wine can be made in various styles. During the secondary fermentation process, the dosage or adding of sugar determines the sweetness or dryness of the wine.

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.

The Champagne method involves disgorgement or removing the non-soluble elements or ‘lees’ from the wine to make it clear. The méthode ancestrale or ‘traditional method’ leaves the lees in the bottle thus making the wine cloudier.

Food pairing

Champagne and sparkling wines are great with amuse-bouches and canapés. Lighter mouthfuls like sushi, sashimi or something fresh like a salad with radishes also goes well with sparkling wines. 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 macarons are a shortcut to Gallic, gastronomic bliss.

Sparkling Wine

Styles of sparkling wine

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.

In the world of sparkling wine, Spain is known for producing Cava using the méthode traditionnelle. Prosecco Spumante is the most famous Italian sparkling wine and the biggest competitor to Champagne. Known universally of Prosecco, the secondary fermentation process occurs in stainless steel barrel and the wine is bottle under pressure.

House of Arras in Tasmania produces some of the most exciting sparkling white wines in Australia using the méthode traditionnelle. Other producers such as Jansz, Grant Burge, Chandon, Heemskerk and Petaluma make excellent sparkling wine for various budgets as well as Riversdale, Cuvée Tasmania and Cuvée Coonawarra.

Sparkling Shiraz

Australia has made many significant contributions to wine. Sparkling Shiraz is considered internationally to be something of a curiosity but in Australia it has truly found an audience. Commercial styles tend to be sweet but with age and restraint from the winemaker the wine becomes more complex and characterful. Australian winemaking innovators and pioneers in Sparkling Shiraz reserve their best grapes for their wines.


Seppelt is the most recognised name associated with Sparkling Shiraz. However, there are many other producers making exceptional Sparkling Shiraz including Rockford, Teusner, Bleasdale and Dorrien Estate.


The sparkling wines that qualify as Champagne are controlled by strict guidelines that dictate region and method of production. Champagne is the most famous style of sparkling wines in the world but accounts for less than 10% of the global production of sparkling wine. Champagne has a glorious past with the highest of high society in the new world and the old using the drink to toasts their successes.


The future of sparkling wine

With the House of Arras and Seppelt leading the way with sparkling white and red wine, the future is looking bright for Australian bubbles. Both winemakers along with many other Australian producers continue to make exceptional wines and domestic and international markets are growing.

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.