Make Valentine’s Day Sparkle

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but it’s not the only thing that sparkles on Valentine’s Day. If you can’t spring for diamonds, sparkling wine with some flowers or chocolate is just as nice. But don’t let the selection in the wine aisle intimidate you. There’s something there for everyone in many different price points, levels of sweetness and varieties of bubbly.

Sweetness Level:

Extra Brut: Undetectable sweetness with 0 to 6 grams residual sugar per liter.
Brut: Very little sweetness with only 6 to 12 grams residual sugar per liter.
Extra Dry (Extra Sec): Some detectable sweetness with 12 to 17 grams residual sugar per liter.
Dry (Sec): Noticeable sweetness with 17 to 32 grams residual sugar per liter.

Varieties of Sparkling Wine:

Champagne: True Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region of France. It is usually a blend of grapes – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and sometimes Pinot Meunier. They use the traditional method of bottling, which means it is bottle fermented. The wine has gone through one fermentation in the tank and then another in the bottle, which creates the bubbles. The second fermentation can take months to years and then the wine goes through a riddling process to remove yeast and sugar sediment. It is then given a sugar dosage that classifies the champagne style as Brut, Extra Dry or Dry.

Prosecco: Made from Prosecco grapes, also known as Glera grapes, in the Italian region of Veneto. This sparkling wine is produced using the tank method.  This means its second fermentation takes place in a tank rather than individual bottles. It is then cooled, clarified and receives its sugar dosage in the tank.

Moscato d’ Asti: A sparkling wine produced in the style of the Asti region of Italy. It is typically semi-sweet, lightly carbonated and low in alcohol.

Spumante: Spumante is a term used for sparkling wine in Italy. It actually means foaming. In Spumante, the sweetness level and type of grape can vary depending on the vineyard and region.

Lambrusco: Another Italian sparkling wine that is well-known is Lambrusco. It is a red sparkling wine made from the Lambrusco grape of the Emilia-Romagna region. Lambrusco is traditionally sweet, but some producers are now creating dry versions.

Sparkling Rosé: Also known as pink champagne, the wine is made from red grapes which can vary by region and country.  It is produced in the rose or blush methods of limiting the grape’s contact with its skin. They can vary from dry to sweet and generally have more fruit and floral flavors.

Blanc de Blancs: Made entirely from white grapes – typically Chardonnay – Blanc de Blancs is very different in flavor and lighter in color. Because champagne is typically made with Pinot Noir grapes that are light in flavor, Blanc de Blancs has a richly complex flavor with citrus notes that bring a lively acidic quality that is crisp and bright but finishes dry and creamy.

Published 2/3/20

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