From Champagne to Sparkling Wine: Brush Up on Your Bubbly Vocabulary

If you’re toasting to something – the New Year, a wedding, Friday – chances are you have some bubbly in your glass. But that sparkling wine isn’t necessarily champagne (which, for the record, comes only from the Champagne region of France). This celebration standby goes by a different name for every place it’s produced in. Confused? Not to worry. I’m going to break the vocab down for you.

BLG-Champagne

Sparkling Wine
When in doubt, use this catchall term. It’s often applied to American versions and any bubbly without a specific regional designation.

Champagne
A name that is literally protected by the Treaty of Versailles. The only bubbly authorized to sport this moniker on its label is produced in Champagne, France.

Crémant
These are sparkling wines made in France, but outside of the Champagne region – places like Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Limoux. Side note: these sparklings are more budget-friendly than Champagne, while offering up the same consistent palate-pleasing qualities.

Cava
This is Spain’s contribution to the world of bubbly. Produced primarily in Catalonia‘s Penedès region, this sparkling wine was traditionally stored in caves – hence the name. Super affordable, cava just may be the best bang for your buck.

Prosecco
This Italian sparkling wine goes through a process similar to that of Champagne, but its second fermentation occurs in a stainless steel vat (rather than in the bottle). Look for the terms spumante and frizzante to indicate whether the wine is fully sparkling or semi-sparkling, respectively.

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By Chrissy Makkas, Staff Writer

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September 11, 2013