'Tis the Season for Sparkling Wine!

Everybody loves sparkling wine. It's festive. And this is the time of the year that a lot of sparking wine is served.

Sparkling wine consumption in the U.S. surges during the holiday season. It is estimated that more than 40% of sparkling wine purchases occur in the final 12 weeks of the year, with more than 25% coming in the last four weeks leading up to New Year's Eve.

There are many choices when it comes to sparking wines. Champagne is a sparkling wine that is produced in the relatively small region of Champagne in France. Only those sparkling wines produced in this region are allowed to be labeled as 'Champagne.'  And an entry-level bottle of Champagne is going to start in the $50 range.

The various styles of Champagne can be confusing. As a reminder, here are the styles and their percent of residual sugar (RS):

  • Extra Brut: 0-6% RS
  • Brut: 0-15% RS
  • Extra Dry: 12-20% RS
  • Dry: 17-35% RS
  • Demi Sec: 35-50% RS
  • Doux: Greater than 50% RS

If you enjoy a dry (low RS) sparkling wine look for Cava from Spain. It's produced using the same method as Champagne. Cava is produced in the Catalonia region of Spain where Barcelona is located.  Nice bottles of Cava can be purchased for around $15.

In the U.S., there are a tremendous number of makers of sparkling wine. Most will produce a wine that can taste very much like the French Champagne. And, you can also find these sparkling wines infused with fruit flavors such as peach and nut flavors such as almond.  An entry-level bottle of sparking wine in the U.S. can start around $10.

If you prefer sparkling wine with a more fruity and floral character, look for Prosecco from Italy. It's their signature sparkling wine. Produced in the Veneto region just north of Venice, this sparkling wine usually produces big bubbles in your glass. Bottles of Prosecco can be purchased in the $10- $15 range.

Asti is another popular sparking wine from Italy. It is produced in the Piedmont (peh-ah-MON-tey) region from the Moscato Bianco grape. Both Moncato d'Asti and Asti sparkling wines can be found in the $10-$15 range

And, if you happen to have heard about pétillant-naturel—more affectionately known as “pét-nat”— you know that this is another sparking wine option. One that I'll address in more detail next time. 

So here's to raising a glass of bubbly during the holiday season. Cheers!