Sparkling wine has long been the perfect expression of celebration, luxury and ease. As taste and technology continue to evolve across the world of winemaking, so do the opportunities for sparkling wine. Our collection of sparkling white wines includes Prosecco from producers like Innocent Bystander, sparkling Pinot Noir, sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling Riesling, sparkling Chardonnay, as well as our selection of sparkling red wine varieties including sparkling Shiraz, sparkling Merlot and sparkling Rose wines.
Is Sparkling Wine Champagne?
Sparkling wine certainly originated in the wine-making region of France called Champagne but not all sparkling wine is considered Champagne. Naming conventions for French wine must adhere to both strict regional qualities as well as a range of conditions relating to the wine’s properties. To be called Champagne, the sparkling variety must, first and foremost, be created in the French winemaking Champagne region.
What is the difference between sparkling wine and champagne?
If Champagne can only be made in the wine-making region of Champagne, then all other sparkling varieties are therefore known as sparkling wine instead.
The history of sparkling wine is an interesting one given the fact that Champagne now is renowned for its sparkling white wines. Initially, sparkling white wine (and red wine) was considered a catastrophic failure by the winemaker who was actually trying to create a still wine. The sparkle we see in wine is actually due to a two-stage fermentation process that naturally occurred during particularly cold weather. The fermentation of wine would occur as and when it was supposed to occur in the vats, but it would finish early, unbeknownst to the winemaker, when the weather turned cold.
Traditional wine yeasts would go dormant in cold weather and then reactivate once the weather warmed up to complete their fermentation process. This secondary fermentation would occur within the bottle rather than the barrel (traditionally) after primary fermentation, and when yeast creates alcohol it also creates carbon dioxide. This gas would build up within the wine bottle and the wine producer wouldn’t know about it until they either opened the bottle with the sparkling wine’s signature “pop”, or the wine bottle would explode under the pressure of the gas while stored. Entire vintages were sometimes lost in this way and winemakers would, if the bottle survived, shake their heads in dismay when fizzy wine hissed from their carefully stored wines.
Today, sparkling wine is highly sought after through a range of methods but the traditional method, or méthode champenoise and the mistake of countless vintners in France originally, is still considered the superior one. This is largely due to its incredibly labour-intensive method and anything that takes longer to create is usually going to generate the highest quality output. Technology, however, has made making sparkling wine of consistently high quality much easier and thankfully everyone is able to have an excellent bottle of bubbly.
Australian sparkling wine ranks highly on the world’s stage with a homegrown favourite of sparkling rose that is still the perfect accompaniment to the great Australian barbeque. We have some excellent cool climate regions perfect for developing a very dry sparkling wine, in the closest tradition of the sparkling brut, but experimentation with a host of other grape varieties has proven to produce very fruitful sparkling varieties also. Innocent Bystander located in the Yarra Valley produces a very delectable Prosecco style wine in the Italian style, for example. Other notable regions are Spain, New Zealand and North America.
How to keep sparkling wine fizzy?
The key to keeping sparkling wine well is to cork it with a proper wine stopper and to store it laying down in your fridge. Once opened, the bubbles that give sparkling wine its signature fizz are already dispersing and there’s nothing you can do to stop that from happening. You can slow it down with cooler temperatures, which stop the wine bubbles from bursting and thus disappearing, and by ensuring that it isn’t agitated more than it needs to be. The more often the bottle is moved, the more likely it is to lose its bubbles. Never store your bubbly on the fridge door, for example.
In the early days of sparkling wine’s appeal, sweet wines were highly prized, especially in Russia, and it was common practice to add sugar to the wines. Now the field is wide open with a range of dry and sweet varieties available. The Brut is amongst the driest available and an Extra Brut is considered to have the lowest calories, packing an average of 65 calories per glass. The bubbles are also said to make you want to drink less of it so if you’re looking for a low-cal drink you can enjoy chilled and expect to drink less of it, this might be the perfect variety to choose from.
All of our wines are tasted by our wine experts who draw on over 70 years of wine knowledge to source and present some of the best producers both across Australia and the rest of the world. Our entire collection is available to order online so you can enjoy quick and convenient delivery direct to your door.
Sparkling wine is not just for celebrations, but for enjoying all year round. There is such a broad variety of styles to choose from, including the increasingly popular sparkling red wine varieties, that you’ll never run out of options to try. Order online now or speak with a wine consultant about choosing the best type for your drinking preference.