This article was published on December 30th, 2014
With the year coming to an end, there’s no doubt we all have a bottle of something bubbly on our holiday shopping list for that special New Year’s Eve party with our friends and family.
As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, the popping, pouring, fizziness, and toasting of Champagne and sparkling wine such as Cava and Prosecco is a tradition among many because the bubbles have been historically associated with elite and upper-class, royal European social events.
Other than the loud pop from the bottle that signifies an instance of celebration and happiness, are there any differences between Champagne, Cava and Prosecco?
Simply explained, sparkling wine is a carbonated wine with bubbles. Champagne, in particular, is not just a term referring to bubbly wine but one that refers to sparkling wine made specifically in the Champagne region of France using the traditional method (Méthode Champenoise), where carbonation is produced from a secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle. This traditional method uses a blend of grapes indigenous to the Champagne region of France: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Champagne varies in its level of dryness and sweetness.
Using the same traditional method as Champagne in France, Cava is a sparkling wine made in and using traditional grapes of Spain, such as Xarel-lo, Macabeu, and Parallada. Cava tends to be less sweet, drier, and less fruity than Champagne and Prosecco.
Prosecco is a sweeter and fruitier sparkling wine made from Prosecco grapes in the Valdobbiadene region of Italy. Rather than using the Méthode Champenoise, Prosecco uses the tank (Charmat) method to produce secondary fermentation in large tanks before bottling. This method is less labour-intensive and produces inexpensive sparkling wine with simple flavours for casual sipping.
Regardless of the bubble you’ve chosen, one of the most common questions asked by partygoers is how to safely pop a bottle of sparkling wine with style and flair for the special, bubbly toast of the night.
Here are a few tips to remember:
- Serve cold- Sparkling wine is best served when it is chilled between the temperatures of 4 to 7 degrees Celsius. The warmer the sparkling wine, the more likely the bottle will foam and bubble over when opened. The best way to chill is to leave the bottle in a bucket of ice water for about 30 minutes.
- Loosen the wire cage- Dry off the outside of the bottle with a towel. Tilt the bottle at a 45 degrees angle, away from you and others. Peel off the foil wrapper and gently unwind and remove the wire cage.
- Turn the bottle (not the cork)- Firmly push down the cork with one hand on top while slowly turning the bottle with the other hand (holding on to the bottle bottom).
- Pop! – Continue to slowly turn the bottle until the cork starts to push out and a slight hiss and pop sound. Contrary to the images and celebratory scenes we have all seen, the goal is to open the wine with as little sound as possible (some say as a ‘sigh’).
May the celebration begin!