If a region produces wine, then chances are exceptional that it will also try its hand at crafting a sparkling wine in some form or fashion. We’ve rounded up our favorite renditions of sparkling wine from a variety of countries to toast New Year’s Eve with an international flare.
Spain – Spain’s sparkling wine scene centers around Cava, the delicious bottled bubbles that hail from the Penedes winegrowing region just outside of Barcelona. Built on the back of local grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, Cava is made in the same traditional method as Champagne in which the second bubble-capturing fermentation takes place in the bottle. Often light to medium bodied, Cava delivers an exceptional quality to price ratio, typically asking for only a fraction of the cost of full-fledged Champagne. In terms of Cava flavor components, expect plenty of citrus, apples, floral and almond themes with high acidity and a dry to off-dry style.
Germany – Germany and Austria both make a hard-to-find sparkling wine known as Sekt typically based on the Riesling grape. Light-bodied, with an off-dry appeal and refreshing lively personality, Sekt is brimming with apple and citrus themes and in warmer vintages a touch of tropical fruit – it’s the perfect partner to a variety of appetizers. Typically, non-vintage and offering a new sparkling angle on a relatively well-known grape, Sekt is well worth the search for those looking to shake up their holiday bubbly.
Sekt Top Picks: Weingut Schwaab-Dietz
Italy – Italian bubbles come in three dominant themes: Prosecco, Franciacorta and Moscato d’Asti.
Prosecco: The ever present, always welcome, happy-go-lucky Prosecco, made from the Glera grape and most commonly found in Italy’s famed Veneto region, promises a light-bodied, lighter alcohol wine tasting experience at reasonable price points. Carrying apples, apricots and almonds with a flavor range that extends to melons, minerals and honeyed toast on a dry to off-dry palate profile, Prosecco enjoys a particular affinity for antipasto dishes. Thanks to the second fermentation taking place in stainless steel tanks (dubbed the “Charmat” method), Prosecco also enjoys a wallet-friendly price point.
Franciacorta: Easily regarded as Italy’s premium sparkling wine option, Franciacorta is a tiny sparkling wine growing region in Lombardy. Based on the tried and true grapes of Champagne, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (with occasional input from Pinot Blanc), and offered in both vintage and non-vintage bottlings, Franciacorta carries the prestigious DOCG designation. Richly textured, with fantastic floral notes, citrus themes, and stony minerality, Franciacorta delights with elegance and an ongoing opulence that mirrors Champagne.
Moscato d’Asti: Easy to love, easy to drink the semi-sparkling sweet treat of Piedmont’s Moscato d’Asti brings a light and lively sip to every glass. Perfect for pairing with all sorts of fruit desserts or cheesecake, the lighter body and low levels of alcohol (typically in the 5-6% range), make it an exceptionally versatile bottle for those just getting into wine as well as staunch enthusiasts. Expect, fairly high acidity levels to balance out the sweet side with a fruit-forward nature leaning heavily into apricot, apple, lemon, lime and honeyed notes.
France – Home to the crème de la crème of the best of bottled bubbles, Champagne enjoys an unrivaled reputation for rich textures, elegant finesse and ageworthy vintages celebrated worldwide. The name Champagne is often mistakenly used as a catch-all term to refer to any bubble carrying bottle of brut, but true Champagne must be grown, harvested and bottled in the prestigious wine growing region of Champagne, France. Yet, there are lesser known sparkling wines from just about every other French wine growing region outside of Champagne, dubbed “Cremant” (for “creamy”) and labeled as “Cremant de Loire” (Cremant from the Loire) or “Cremant d’Alsace” (Cremant from Alsace). These cremants represent some of the best values for sparkling wines around the globe, with bottles made in the same classic method as Champagne (Methode Champenoise) and selling for a fraction of the price.
New World Sparkling Wines: Whether it’s the U.S., Australia, South Africa, South America or elsewhere, these New World versions of sparkling wine typically take their vinous inspiration from Champagne and look to the same grape trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for their best sparkling wine blends. They may vary considerably in terms of styles ranging from light to full-bodied, dry to off-dry and at times downright sweet, to traditional labels showing the classic flavors of apples or pears, and citrus to toasty, yeasty influences.
Whether you reach for the light and lovely Graham Beck’s Brut out of S. Africa, or toast the New Year with a flute from a classic like Bollinger, there are plenty of reasons (and seasons) to bust out a new bottle of bubbly from just as many regions.