There are so many reasons to celebrate during this festive and outdoors-friendly season. And with the warmer weather chilled drinks are more than appropriate, so we say bring out the bubbles!  We love to share a bottle of champagne and whether you serve it as an aperitif, with your meal, with dessert, to bring in a touch of romance, or to invoke a celebratory mood, by all means pop the cork, sip, and smile.

Here is some general information to keep in mind or guide you as you look for bubbles to suit your day:

 – Italian sparkling white wine. Secondary fermentation (which creates the bubbles) typically occurs in large stainless steel tanks, unlike champagne where secondary fermentaion occurs in the bottle and the wine is aged before release. This results in a wine meant to drink young and taste fresh, light, and simple. Think $10-$20 bottle from the grocery store.

Champagne – Sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. Secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle and the grapes used for the wine are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. The wine is aged a minimum of 18 months. In exceptional growing years the wine is made from a single vintage, otherwise the final wine is a blend of both grapes and vintages. Think $60 – $250/bottle from your local wine shop.

 – Spanish sparkling wine, white or rose, produced in the traditional Méthode Champenoise / Método Tradicional (secondary fermentation in the bottle), made mainly from indigenous Spanish grapes. Great value $6 – $20/bottle from large wine shop or local grocery store.

California Sparkling wine
 – modeled after French champagne, including using French grape varietals grown in California. Prices can vary from $15 (Korbel) – $150 (J. Schram), other California sparkling houses to note – Iron Horse (served at the White House), Mumm, Rack & Riddle, Roederer (their estate brut is an awesome value), and Schramsberg.

Food pairings: bubbles and crisp acidity balance creamy or fried dishes such as fish and chips, buttered popcorn, lobster, a creamy chowder, or even cheese cake.


Inspiration and good sparkling read: Tasting Dom Perignon from Various Decades