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Grab your bubbles while you may!
Earlier this year we heard that there was going to be a world shortage of Prosecco as the Italian grape harvest had not produced sufficient quantity to match demand. Now, quelle horreur… as a result of the French industrial action at the ports, we may run out of Champagne too! Some of the fizz which is reaching these shores is being air freighted in, so the price will sky rocket – forgive the pun!
So this year, if you want to celebrate something important, it looks like Cava, Cap Classique or Sekt could be the best option. Of course, there is always Napa Valley Champagne – which opens a whole new can of worms. Although the Americans may call it champagne, the Europeans definitely do not as champagne is protected by the European Commission, Protected Designation of Origin – PDO – https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/food-safety-and-quality/certification/quality-labels/quality-schemes-explained
Therefore, although all champagnes are sparkling wine, not all sparkling wines are champagne as only those from a very specific region of France of Champagne can bear the name. In fact France has 23 other sparkling wine regions all of which produce some fantastic bubbly, so you should definitely get familiar with a few of them. To find out more visit: https://about-france.com/wines.htm. There are some absolutely fabulous sparkling wines from the Lorraine and North Burgundy regions, falling literally meters outside of the Champagne’s regional borders. As they can’t be classed as champagne they cost almost half the price.
Mind you, if the strikes at the French ports continue, it might be worth looking a little further afield than that. For those who love “champagne” but do not like the prices, look out for these words on the label of the sparkling wine (by country below) and you will see which ones are made with primarily the same grapes and in the same way as champagne but at a fraction of the price.
○ Spain: Cava and Espumoso
○ Germany and Austria: Sekt
○ South Africa: Cap Classique
○ Portugal and Argentina: Espumante
○ USA, Australia, Chile, etc.: Traditional Method and “Méthode Champenoise”
Italy: They do things slightly differently over there. The Italians have two types of “Vino Spumante” which simply translated means “sparkling wine”. Their Champagne method is called Metodo Classico, while Prosecco is termed Metodo Charmant (or Metodo Italiano).
The Metodo Italiano technique was invented in the 19th century by Federico Martinotti, an Italian from Asti. As with Champagne and its equivalents mentioned above, the sparkling wine has to undergo two fermentations. The primary fermentation is exactly the same for both production processes. Whereas, the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle for Champagne, it takes place in large stainless steel tanks for Prosecco and then gets bottled under high pressure.
However, in the past decade or so a new type of wine has appeared called Frizzante. (Italian for Fizzy) which uses the same method as mentioned above, but the wine spends less time during the second fermentation in the cask. Just before the cork goes on, CO2 is added, rather like a giant soda syphon. So if you see Prosecco Frizzante it is generally a lower grade than Prosecco Spumante as it has been produced faster.
So no matter which bubbly tipple takes your fancy why not relax behind your beautiful solid shutters to keep the heat of the day at bay with a lovely glass of fizz!