Sparkling wines are the result of perhaps the world’s happiest accident. Before technology gave us temperature control, stored wine was subject to the changing seasonal temperatures, resulting in what’s known as secondary fermentation. As the wine began to heat up again with the coming summer months, fermenting would begin anew, trapping excess carbon dioxide inside the bottle. Once wine patrons discovered the rich and unique taste, sparkling wine was born.
The Sparkling Sweetness
While wines are often categorized by grape, sparkling wines are also classified by their sweetness level.
- Extra brut: In these vintages, yeast has eaten away all perceptible sugars.
- Brut: With just a hint of sweet, brutes are the most popular sparkling wines, and many champagnes fall into this category. If you want to stick to American wines, this California brut from ONEHOPE is light and crisp.
- Extra Dry: Noticeably sweeter than its brut brethren, extra-dry varieties have a mild yet non-surgery sweetness. Prosecco usually falls into this classification.
- Sec: Though it is labeled as the French word for “dry,” these wines are just a step away from full sweetness.
- Demi-sec: These vintages give you the sparkling experience with full sweetness, and they are often paired with dessert.
Planning Your Pair
Like all wines, the perfect pair depends on the vintage’s intricacies and subtle notes. The extra-brut and brut sparkling wine varieties pair well with lobster, salmon, and even some red meats, but sparkling wines shine at the dessert table. Focus on puddings and tarts with apples, pears, and plum fillings.
If you prefer a nutty note, try a classic almond cake to match your champagne bubbles. Remember, you want to balance those dry flavors with a little extra sweetness. Conversely, you can dive into the sweetness deep end with a demi-sec and apple tart pairing. If you aren’t sure what will go best, make a platter filled with fresh fruits to cover all your bases!