Wine styles

Guide to sparkling wines

Champagne has to be one of the world's most iconic wines, but fortunately there's a whole world of delicious sparkling styles to explore for when splashing out on the special stuff has to wait until pay day. Below we explore the delicious variety the world of bubbly has to offer, from dry styles through to cake-friendly sweet fizz.

I like… champagne, prosecco and sparkling wines

Popular grapes and styles

Where you'll find it: One place only - the Champagne region, Northern France

Flavours: Apple, peach, brioche and butter

Style: The last word in luxury, Champagne is the ultimate celebration wine. It's usually bone dry (Brut) but you will also find off-dry/slightly sweet bottles (usually labelled Demi Sec).

Food: As well as oysters, lobster and crab, Champagne is amazing with fish and chips for a tasty high-low combination.

Drink it here: Weddings, anniversaries, when you've just won a billion pounds… basically anytime you want to go all out.

View our Champagne

Where you'll find it: All over Spain, but mainly Catalunya

Flavours: Apple, almond and lime

Style: Cava is made in the same way as Champagne (see below), so has the same delicious brioche and fruit notes, with hints of almond and vibrant citrus and apple flavours.

Food: Try a Spanish-inspired match with seafood, croquettas and salted almonds.

Drink it here: For weddings, parties, picnics and any celebration where you want sparkling wine without splashing out.

View our Cava

Where you'll find it: Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Flavours: Pear, green apple and citrus/lemon & lime

Style: Fresh, fruity style of sparkling wine, made for drinking young and with slightly higher levels of residual sugar than Champagne and Cava. Made from the Glera grape.

Food: Parmesan, prosciutto and crostini or as a palate-cleanser with slightly spicy cuisine such as Vietnamese.

Drink it here: In Italy, Prosecco is traditionally served with cake. We also think it makes a great party-starter as it's sweetly fruity enough to drink on its own.

View our Prosecco

Where you'll find it: Kent, Hampshire, Cornwall, Norfolk and Sussex

Flavours: Gooseberry, lemon, green apple

Style: Whistle-clean, gooseberry-scented sparkling wine, usually made from the traditional Champagne grapes of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier.

Food: Match with beautiful freshwater British fish such as trout, with new potatoes and buttered asparagus.

Drink it here: On a British beach with the wind blowing in your hair.

View our English sparkling wine

Where you'll find it: All over France (outside Champagne)

Flavours: Lemon & lime, floral and bButter

Style: France's finest sparkling wines (made by the traditional method) outside Champagne, crémant literally means 'creamy'.

Food: Rilettes and paté whether meaty or mushroomy are great here.

Drink it here: While the canapés are being handed round as these wines taste particularly good with buttery, cheesy pastry and cured meats.

View our Crémant

Where you'll find it: Italy

Flavours: Sweet peaches, blossom and lemon

Style: Decadently delicious, gently sweet fizz with aromas of honeysuckle, and ripe fruit.

Food: The syrupy jam and vanilla cream of a Victoria sponge is a winner here, but any light, creamy dessert would be good.

Drink it here: Moscato d'Asti is low enough in alcohol (around 5%) for afternoon tea and will taste great with scones.

View our Moscato d'Asti

Lambrusco: A classic Italian red sparkler with a deep purple colour and rich black-fruit flavours.

Méthode Ancestrale: From Limoux in the foothills of the Pyrenees, this wine is lightly sparkling, lowish in alcohol and usually a little sweet, with gorgeous baked-apple flavours.

How it's made

Traditional method: Champagne, Cava, English sparkling, Crémant

The magic of Champagne and other traditional-method sparklers is that the bottle you buy is the same one that the wine has spent its life in, after the bottling following first fermentation (when grape juice is turned into wine). There are many fancy words for the seemingly mystical process involved, but it's the quality of the original wine which counts, then the amount of time the wine spends ageing on its lees in that bottle – 12 months for non-vintage Champagne and three years for Vintage Champagne (where the grapes are the product of one year's vintage).

Tank method: Prosecco

Prosecco is made by the Charmat method where the second fermentation, the one that makes the bubbles, takes place in a pressurised stainless-steel tank. Though not as labour-intensive as making sparkling wine by the traditional method, it's a highly technical process and the challenge is to keep all the lovely fresh floral flavours of the wine in the finished product.

Rosie Allen

The Society's Brand Marketing Manager

Rosie Allen

Rosie joined the team in 2016 and oversees all our content including 1874 magazine and Discovery pages.

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