There is no question sparkling wine is fun, festive, delicious. It also pairs with almost any food. What is not to like?
Friction comes when comparing sparklings. Champagne, harrumph, is grande dame of bubbly. You cannot label sparkling as “Champagne” unless it comes from chalk soils of Champagne in France.
Some call Prosecco the Italian Champagne. Like Champagne, Prosecco can only come from the Prosecco region of northeastern Italy. Both wines are wonderful. Both are made completely differently even if both proudly prance on your palate’s pleasure points.
Champagne is made with up to three grapes: pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier.
Prosecco is made with glera, which must be the dominant grape, but perera, bianchetta, verdiso, chardonnay, pinot gris, and pinot noir can be tossed in for depth.
Champagne must be made using the “méthode classique” process where second fermentation occurs in the bottle. The method used to be called “méthode Champenoise,” but that no longer is a permitted EU designation.
Prosecco usually is made using the “Charmat process” where the fermentation occurs in a large stainless steel tank.
Both methods engender wine with bubbles. Champaign champions assert their method delivers better and more persistent bubbles. OK, maybe. Prosecco makers, however, consistently improve their bubbleosity.
The real fork in the road comes at the cash register. You can buy superb Prosecco for less than $20, very good for less than $12. Champagne? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
In bubble battles, Champagne holds it own, but Prosecco is on nose-bleed market ascendancy. Analysts predict prosecco sales will increase by 36 percent in the next five years, while all other sparkling sales will rise by less than two. Casualties have been lower end bubblies, although they remain players because the rising sparkling tide floats all bubbly boats.
Bottom line: if you do not have sparkling wine on your wine drinking agenda, what is wrong with you?
• Ruffino Prosecco Extra Dry NV: Delightful, dependable, classic Prosecco. $10-13 Link to my review
• Argyle Vintage Brut Sparkling Willamette Valley 2013: Very clean, smooth, creamy; will pair with almost anything. $19-26 Link to my review
• Sterling Vineyards Blanc de Blancs 2016: Wonderful expression of sparkling chardonnay at a pocket-pleasing price point. $24-35 Link to my review
• Champagne Palmer & Co. Brut Réserve NV: Very clean, precise flavors from “the best Champagne house you have never heard of.” $52 Link to my review
Last round: I’m on the wine diet: sparkling for breakfast, white for lunch, red for dinner. I’m losing two days per week.