The Bubbly

Oh, the bubbly. Whether you’re celebrating the New Year, your everlasting love, cheap comic relief, being in a rap video…heck, if you’re celebrating anything, sparkling wine should be your sip of choice.
Text by David C. Cleland | June 7, 2018 | Lifestyle

While most people refer to all sparkling wine as champagne, the title can only go to wine that’s produced in (yup, you guessed it) the Champagne region of France. Hey, it’s OK. There’re so many different varieties of sparkling wine made all over the world using different grapes and methods, that you don’t need to know the proper term for each one — but, please, stop calling them all champagne!
While there are many delicious sparkling wines out there, Prosecco, Moscato d’ Asti and Lambrusco from Italy; Cava from Spain; Crémant from France (made like champagne, just not in Champagne); and even an Australian sparkling red Shiraz, Champagne is king, so that’s what we’re going to focus on. Now, let’s get poppin’.
First, a little history, Dom Pérignon, a French Benedictine monk (yes, he was a real person) who is often credited with inventing sparkling champagne actually probably hated the bubbles, considering he spent most of his time trying to get rid of them. You see, in the 17th Century, bubbles were considered a fault in wine, and rightfully so, as they caused bottles to explode…sometimes leading to a chain reaction in the cellar that could cause some serious damage. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that bubbles started to become popular.
When it comes to getting the bubbles, the traditional process is complicated and time-consuming. It involves words like disgorgement, dosage and riddling, but the basic idea revolves around a second fermentation where a still wine (no bubbles) is bottled before yeast and sugar are added, which yields the bubbles. The dead yeast is then removed and some fresh wine and sugar is added. That final addiction of sugar and wine is what determines how sweet the final product is, with no less then 7 different classifications resulting, with Brut Nature being the driest and Doux the sweetest.
When it comes to buying champagne, the biggest difference in price is going to come from vintage versus non-vitage wines. The former are the best-of-the-best and are marked with the year they were produced, while non-vintage options are a blend and thus not marked with a year. There are phenomenal wines to be found in both categories.
Opening champagne can be an artform — from sabering a bottle in which you use a sword (not recommended); to shooting the cork across the room and wasting half the bottle and poking someone in the eye (not recommended); to firmly grasping the bottle and cork and slowly twisting while providing downward pressure until it quietly pops (recommended). In the end, whichever way you decide to open your bottle, please proceed with caution. You’ll be having enough adventures coming your way as you pour through your bottle of choice.