Learning how to choose sparkling wine will greatly enhance your enjoyment of a beautiful bottle of bubbly. When you’re not au fait with the world of wine terms and you haven’t ventured that far into sparkling wine territory, the choice can be overwhelming and confusing. This guide breaks down different types of sparkling wines and their flavours, so you are better equipped to make the best choice for you. And if you want to get right into browsing your options, you can explore our full sparkling wine range to see what’s out there.
What to Look for in a Sparkling Wine
If you’re unsure where to start, it’s a good idea to think about what kinds of tastes you like. Sparkling wines can be sweet or dry, light or rich. Here is how to tell what kind of flavours and characteristics a wine will give you:
1) Sweetness Level
Generally, there are about four main categories on the sweetness scale for sparkling wines that you’ll see on their labels. From sweetest to driest, these are:
- Demi-Sec: This is the sweetest-tasting sparkling wine and is best for dessert pairings.
- Extra Dry: Extra Dry wines retain some dryness but are on the sweeter side. Prosecco is the most common example.
- Brut: Brut wines are mostly dry with a touch of sweetness. This is the most popular sweetness level for sparkling wine, with Champagne being the best example.
- Extra Brut: Extra Brut wines have little-to-no sugar content, making them the driest style of sparkling wine.
2) Grape Variety
The sweetness or dryness of a sparkling wine depends on the production process and the grape variety. Learning more about grape varieties can unlock different ways of choosing the right sparkling wine for you.
The most common grape varieties used include:
Chardonnay is one of the most common sparkling grape varieties because of its versatility. It’s a neutral grape which is influenced by the climate in which it is grown. Chardonnay grapes cultivated in cooler climates have more acidity while warmer climates produce grapes with a more buttery, full-bodied feel.
Pinot Noir is a red grape variety which is often blended with Chardonnay grapes in sparkling wines. It adds complex flavours including red berries and mushrooms. They often have sweet aromas with a slight spice.
Pinot Meunier grapes are also used in Champagne blends, giving bold flavours of juicy red fruits and adding brightness to any sparkling wine.
The Pinot Gris grape makes for dry, aromatic sparkling wines with noticeable citrus notes. It’s often used in Italian sparkling wines.
Sauvignon Blanc grapes lend sparkling wines a refreshing, herbaceous flavour and are very dry in character.
When you think of sparkling wine you may immediately think of opulent bottles of Champagne. There are lots of different types of sparkling wine at different prices that are still of fine quality. Generally, the production method will have an effect on the price.
This is the most venerated form of sparkling wine production and is associated with Champagne and other fine wines. This method involves two fermentations, one in the barrel and one in the bottle, and hand methods like riddling and disgorging. The wine also needs to be significantly aged.
Also called the Charmat method, this production process is swifter than the traditional. The wine will be transferred to a large pressurised tank for secondary fermentation. The shorter ageing time cuts down the price of the bottled product and makes a lighter wine that’s very fruit-forward.
The tank method is a meld of the above two methods. The secondary fermentation happens in the bottle but instead of riddling (gradually orienting the bottle by hand until it’s upside down), the deposits made by the ageing process are filtered via a tank. This makes for a more cost-effective method that still retains much of the finer quality associated with traditional-method wine.
In this method, there is no secondary fermentation. The carbonation that makes the wine sparkling is instead achieved via an injection into the wine. This makes it the least expensive method of sparkling wine, but the finishing product lacks somewhat in flavour and maturity.
What Are the Different Types of Sparkling Wine?
It would be impossible to list all of the sparkling wine varieties, but the varieties you will most often see on the shelves include:
Champagne is the name reserved for sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. Made using the traditional method, Champagnes are considered prestigious and have the price tag to match. Champagne tends to have delicate flavours and nutty notes and is best enjoyed on its own rather than as part of a cocktail, for example.
Italy’s sparkling wine of choice, Prosecco is lighter and sweeter than Champagne with fruitier notes. It’s also made using the tank method, so comes in at a lower price than its French counterpart. Prosecco is great for a cocktail.
Cava is not sweet like Prosecco and is more like Champagne in terms of taste. However, it’s less acidic and zestier with pleasing citrus aromas and hints of bready nuttiness.
English Sparkling Wine
English sparkling wine has been steadily making a name for itself. At Bolney Wine Estate, we have been making award-winning sparkling wine for the last 50 years with grapes grown in our Sussex vineyards. We make all of our sparkling wines in the traditional method, producing fine bottles of bubbly adored by critics and customers alike.
Choose a sparkling wine from our innovative range, including whites, reds, and rosés. Our popular Blanc de Blancs has a smooth texture complemented by elegant citrus and hazelnut aromas with a wonderfully creamy finish. Or, for a crisper white, our Estate Chardonnay 2020 has delightful notes of apricot and orange peel.Browse Sparkling Wines
Choose Sparkling Wine for a Monthly Subscription Delivery
If you’re looking for sparkling wine, why not try our subscription service? You can choose which sparkling wines you want to sample and discover a new favourite in our collection.
The subscribe and save offer means you could save up to 15% and always have a bottle of sparkling wine to hand.Subscribe and Save Today