Sparkling wines are often used to celebrate holidays, milestones and achievements. Wedding guests will toast the bride and groom with a glass of bubbly, and revellers often pop open a bottle of Champagne to ring in the New Year. It is produced and enjoyed around the world, and the types of sparkling wine vary in taste as well as alcohol level.
Some of the many types of sparking wines include Champagne (from France), Prosecco and Asti (from Italy), Cava (from Spain) and domestic sparkling white wine. Alcohol content can vary by the specific type of sparkling wine.
Sparkling wines are made from both white and red grape varieties. Expensive Champagnes use extremely high-quality grapes, while inexpensive domestic sparkling wines often use inferior grapes. Chardonnay and pinot noir grapes are popular grapes to make sparkling wine from, but it varies from country to country.
The grapes that sparkling wine is made from are harvested earlier than those picked for still wine. By harvesting earlier, the grapes do not have as high a sugar content. This eventually translates to lower alcohol content, because the sugar turns to alcohol during the fermentation process. Grapes that are harvested early also have a higher acidity level and a lower pH rating. These are things that give sparkling wines their “crispness.”
Sparkling wines are lower in alcohol than many still wines. Prosecco and Asti have very low APV (alcohol by volume) levels at under 12.5 percent. California sparkling wine, Champagne, and Cava have a moderately low alcohol content at 12.5-13.5 percent. Some sparkling wines can have a lower APV level. To be absolutely sure of the alcohol content, check the label. By law, the percentage of alcohol in the wine must be disclosed.
One 750-ml bottle of champagne has as many as 49 million bubbles. This number was calculated by scientist Bill Lembeck.
Dom Perignon was a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Hautvillers. While making wine, he allowed the carbon dioxide to build up in the fermentation process. This created bubbles and what we now know as sparkling wine.
References and ResourcesChampagne Trivia
The Wine Bible: Karen MacNeil; 2001