Sparkling Wine Shopping: What’s Popping?

Shopping for any wine can be daunting, especially if you’re considering options you haven’t tried before. Whether you are trying to avoid the heavy price tag of Champagne or are just interested in trying something new, there is a quality choice to be found on the shelves. Not all that glitters is gold, but the sound of a cork popping from a chilled bottle of sparkling wine rivals the sound of a baby laughing or an angel singing, so get out there and explore! 

Florencio demonstrating the Art of Sabrage on a well chilled bottle

Florencio demonstrating the Art of Sabrage on a well chilled bottle

If the “real deal” Champagne is what you’re after, ask for Champagne from a smaller boutique house. We do and are rarely disappointed. (Below are some great small producers we recently tried and loved!)

What is Cava, any way?

Slowly getting more shelf real estate, you may recognize the word “Cava” neighboring some of your go-to choices of Champagne, Prosecco, or Asti Spumante. Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine with very similar traits to Champagne (secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle as is the case with Champagne). A well-made Cava has a great balance of fruit and creaminess. 

The quality to price ratio for Cava is excellent; some $20 Cavas can drink better than some $50 Champagnes.

Top Picks: Covides Gran Gesta Brut Reserva (90 points, Wine Enthusiast), LaCueva Brut Reserva Methode Traditionelle

Italian Sparkling Wines: Prosecco and (Asti) Spumante

Prosecco and Cava outsell Champagne in volume. When you order a cocktail with a sparkling wine in it, there’s a very good chance they’ve used Prosecco.  It’s emphasis on fruit and larger bubbles help the elements of the cocktail come together. Prosecco is a great choice on its own as well, especially if your tastes favor more fruit. 

Spumante, the most often seen is Asti Spumante, tends to be a bit sweeter but is made more similarly to Champagne than is Prosecco. Asti Spumante is made from Moscato grapes.

Top Pick: Prosecco from Forchir (coming soon!)

Things to look for in your sparkling wine: freshness, brightness, crispness, and smaller bubbles. Small, quick moving bubbles are a sign of a high quality wine.