All About Sparkling Wine

  in Blog

By Clint Mitchell, Oryana Wine & Beer Buyer

Happy Holidays! No matter the holiday celebrated by you and yours, it surely pairs well with a glass of sparkling wine.

While sparkling wine is a tasty option all year along, most of us don’t think too much about it until the final weeks of the year. Rest assured, whatever your tastes or budget, there’s a sparkling wine for you.

Though the term “Champagne” has become ubiquitous with sparkling wines, only wines made in the Champagne region of France can truly be called “Champagne”. These sparkling wines, made from any combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, follow a strict legal protocol from harvest to bottle. They are delicious, but pricey.

Sparkling wines termed “Cremant” can give you the taste and feel of Champagne without the Champagne price tag. These wines generally follow the same strict production standards of Champagne, but are produced in other regions of France using a variety of grapes. Blends vary by region, whether it be Alsace, Loire, Jura, Burgundy or Bordeaux.

Outside of France, you’ll find European wine producers making their own styles of sparkling wines. In northern Italy, it’s Prosecco. In Spain, Cava.

Proseccos are generally lighter and less expensive than their French counterparts. Made primarily from the Glera grape, Proseccos are ideal for sipping, or served with light fare. Prosecco is also the main ingredient of a Bellini — similar to a Mimossa, but mixed with peach puree, rather than orange juice.

Cava can be made with a number of grapes, but you’ll generally find Macabeo in the mix. These sparkling wines are typically made in the same method as Champagne, but much friendlier on the wallet.

If you’re looking for American-made sparkling wines, look no further than Leelanau County. Larry Mawby has been been making sparkling wines in Suttons Bay for about 40 years, with styles that run the gamut from sweet and fun to full-bodied and serious. His “Traditional” line of Mawby wines are made using the same methods and grapes as Champagne, but for about half the price. If you’ve not been to his tasting room — about 15 minutes north of Traverse City — it’s worth a visit, especially this time of year.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring a number of sparkling wines that reflect what the world has to offer. Here are a few of my favorites. Cheers!

Guiliana Prosecco, $11.99. Fresh, light and fruity. Ideal as an aperitif or toast.

Biutiful Sparkling Cava, $13.99. A zesty sparkler, brimming with citrus and berry flavors.

Marcel Cabelier Cremant, $19.99. Green apple and honey flavors provide a full-bodied mouth feel; toasty on the finish.

Mawby Blanc de Blancs, $24.99. Made entirely from Leelanau-grown Chardonnay, this Brut provides soft, supple flavors of citrus and butterscotch, and a long, clean finish. 

Baron-Fuente Grande Reserve Brut Champagne, $35.99. Textbook Champagne. Toasted spice and nutty notes, with candied pear flavors. Full-bodied and long-lasting.