Pop! Your Complete Guide To Sparkling Wine
Here at Drink Revel Wine we love all things sparkling, so we put together a quick bubbly primer for all your celebratory needs. Want to know your pet-nats from your crémants? Follow along for a brief guide to the effervescent world of bubbly and get ready to sparkle.
Pétillant Naturel, or Pet-Nat
Increasingly popular, and a delight to drink, pet-nats come in a range of colors and characteristics, and are made with a single fermentation that’s finished in the bottle. This method of sparkling wine production has been around for centuries and is sometimes referred to as methode ancestrale in French. Typically, a winemaker will bottle a wine that still has some unfermented grape sugar in it; as the yeasts continue to process these sugars in bottle, the wine becomes naturally sparkling.
When to drink: as an aperitif, with or without food, and generally any sort of party situation. The best pet-nats feel fun along with being naturally delicious, so there’s a certain irresistible quality to them. Did we say fun?
Methode Traditionelle, aka Methode Champenoise
This classic technique for making sparkling wine hails from the 19th century in and around - you guessed it - the Champagne region of northern France. In this instance, a dry base wine that’s completed fermentation is bottled with a small amount of sugar and yeast, which then induces a secondary fermentation within the bottle, adding bubbles to the wine. This style is known for elegant, energizing wines with finesse and complexity, and they can be aged for some time or not, depending on the producer. Beyond Champagne, you’ll see this style of sparkling wine often labeled as Traditional
Method or Crémant.
When to drink: this is the most labor-intensive way to make sparkling wine, so these bottles can be a little more expensive than other styles of sparkling wine. They’re also some of the most compelling and interesting wines around, so we like them to mark special occasions and meals with close friends and loved ones.
Charmat Method, aka Prosecco
Common to northern Italy, as well as some regions of France, this method involves adding a yeast and sugar dosage to a dry, still base wine in a pressurized tank where the secondary fermentation takes place. This process is highly controlled and can be done at scale, resulting in quality wines that are easily available and often quite affordable. Prosecco is the most famous example, although you’ll find many sparkling wines made this way around the world.
When to drink: these are everyday sparkling wines, meant to be enjoyed at brunch, or any sort of casual gathering. Sometimes all you need is a little easy sparkle to make any moment festive.
Force Carbonation, aka the Sodastream Method
Similar in theory to the Charmat method, this process is sort of like using a Sodastream at home to add bubbles to still water, only it’s done in a stainless steel tank and on a much larger scale. Additionally, because the carbonation is added to the tank, there’s no real need to add additional sugars or yeasts to the final wine. As winemakers everywhere navigate rising production costs while trying to meet demand for sparkling wine and other spritzy drinks, you’ll increasingly see bubbly made this way. It might sound like an unusual process for an artisanal product, but we find it impossible to argue with a glass of bubbly that’s delicious and doesn’t cost a lot of money.
When to drink: since many sparkling wines made this way are now packaged in cans in addition to bottle, the best answer to this question is “chill and drink whenever you feel like it.”