Nothing quite says a celebration like sparkling wine. At Benchmark, we’re always ready for a celebration! When it comes to precisely what constitutes a celebration, a Tuesday is more than enough. We get it- the world of sparkling wine is intimidating. We’ve also chosen that $7 bottle off the bottom shelf, and have felt the regret the next morning.
So, our team of oenophiles has conducted an easy-to-understand sparkling wine guide that breaks down what is appropriate for which type of event, alongside an explanation of what different types of sparkling wine constitute. Check out this breakdown!
Origin: Champagne, France
Common Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier
Production: Methode Champenoise
The top dog, the OG sparkling wine, and Marie Antoinette’s joie de vie. Champagne, since the 18th century, has been related to celebrations and wealth, thanks to indulgent monarchies. Those monarchies may have fallen now, but their love of a good party survived. Today Champagne still holds the name for being more chichi than other sparkling wines, but it is worth the extra bucks.
Typical flavors that are found in Champagne take on a more buttery, brioche nose with a palate that is intense yet enticingly acidic. At Benchmark, we are equal opportunity imbibers and support all ways in which bubbles are consumed. Still, we do recommend refraining from splashing some V8 orange juice into a NV Veuve Clicquot. Champagne cocktails are delicious but tend to be slightly more upscale or sophisticated beasts.
Cocktails: Kir Royale, Marnier & Bubbles, French 75, Black Velvet
Tip: If you are set on the flavors that come forward in Champagne and French varieties, but need something more of a bang for your buck, check out Cremants!
Origin: Penedes, Spain
Common Varietals: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada
Production: Methode Champenoise
Perhaps the most underrated expression of sparkling wine, Cava, is the cure to a spoiled palate and a less than spoiled bank account. Cava is the Spanish Champagne, being produced with an identical method. The grape varieties are not your typical ‘French’ sparkling wine varieties, but the quality for the price is merely attention-grabbing.
With similar age-ability as Champagne, Cava finds itself to be an excellent replacement, with slightly more fruit on the palate and delicate aromatics. Even shelling out the big bucks on this one doesn’t kill you, rarely do the nice bottles get any higher than fifty dollars.
Cocktails: White Sherry Sangria, Mojito Royale, Kombucha & Cava
Origin: Veneto, Italy
Common Varietals: Glera, Verdiso, Bianchetta
Production: Charmat Method
We truly owe it all to prosecco. If it hadn’t been for prosecco infiltrating the American and Western Culture wine market, sparkling wine wouldn’t have the prevalence that it has now. Proseccos, especially the ones brought into the United States, are usually made in substantial quantities meaning overall they tend to be much more affordable. Can anyone say bottomless mimosas?! Prosecco is a much more subtle sparkling wine that could be compared more so to frizzante than Champagne in many cases. The flavors are more fruit-driven and less complex than Champagne, but in return, pair very nicely with heaps of fruits!
Cocktails: Bellini, Aperol Spritz, Boreal Ridge, Mimosa
Established in 2002, Benchmark Wine Group is the leading source of fine and rare wine retailers, restaurants and collectors around the world. Based in Napa Valley, we acquire the most sought-after wines from private individuals and professional contacts, but only when provenance can be verified by our team of acquisition professionals. Our staff draws on decades of industry experience and is dedicated to providing exceptional service to all of our clients. Benchmarkwine.com offers 24-hour access to our cellar, displaying inventory in real-time.