From smashing bottles to send off ships to spraying it everywhere in celebrations, champagne is now well-represented in pop culture. But it all started as an accident, when wine fermented for a second time in warm weather, producing excess carbon dioxide inside wine bottles and giving you the bubbles in the bubbly. In the 17th century, the Catholic Church freaked out (some say champagne was called the devil’s wine because of the exploding corks) and called monk Dom Pierre Pérignon to get the situation under control. Later tastes changed and he was asked to make champagne bubblier.
If you want to impress your guests, these are the five kinds of champagne to get.
You can only call sparkling wine champagne if it comes from the Champagne Region of France, but Chandon in Australia comes from a good pedigree -- Moët & Chandon, the makers of Dom Pérignon. The sparkling wines are made using the Charmat or traditional method, which just means that the second fermentation happens in a closed pressure tank rather than a bottle. Most are made from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes, but the red sparkling Shiraz is also popular.
French crémant, like champagne, is a type of sparkling wine that has to be made in specific areas. It’s actually closer to its fresh Italian and Spanish cousins, prosecco and cava, than with its more expensive sibling champagne — and is a well kept secret outside of France. The three types of crémant from Chermette are great festive drinks, not to mention cheaper alternatives to champagne.
If another champagne can rival Dom Pérignon for fame in pop culture, it’s probably Cristal, with its gold bottles made famous by rap songs. Louis Roederer gave the brand his own name after inheriting the company from his uncle in 1833. He exported wines to the U.S. and Tsar Alexander II of Russia, and created Cristal in 1876 as an exclusive champagne for the Tsar. To this day, the company is known for following the “chateau policy” of producing only the best wine, even if it means producing less.
We have a courageous 18th century woman to thank for Veuve Cliquot, one of the most recognisable champagne brands. Madame Cliquot’s husband died when she was 27, but took on the family business along with caring for a three-year-old daughter. “Veuve” is French for widow; she was born Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin. One of her greatest contributions was to invent the riddling method—turning champagne bottles upside down and twisting them so the dead yeast gathers at the neck of the bottle. It revolutionized the champagne industry, and is still being used today.
Ah prosecco – the Italian wine that definitely benefitted from a boost by American millennials. But it was a bit of risk for Luciano Canella to invest in prosecco back in the 1960s, when people loved big hearty reds and whites with high alcohol content.
Canella wines are light, fizzy, and subtly sweet. They’re also not expensive, so you get more bubbles for the buck.
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