We discovered in a previous chapter the wide variety of French sparkling wines that exist and each with a unique character depending upon their origin and production know-how. In addition to over 23 sparkling wines, there are different families and degrees of sweetness. And that can burst any bubble when trying to make a choice. Let’s clarify some of the vocabularies to help you choose which bubbly you’re going to pop!
Choose your grape
Choosing your bubble means, first of all, choosing your grape. A white wine is produced from white and/or black grapes; the blancs de blancs (“white from white”) are wines coming from white-skinned grapes producing a white juice, while the blancs de noirs (“white from black”) come from black-skinned grapes with a white flesh, delicately pressed to obtain a white juice; a rosé wine is generally produced from black grapes with a white flesh, by “bleeding” after a light maceration with the grape skins; red wine is produced from black grapes. There exist four families of sparkling wines that depend upon the grape varieties and colors used in their production.
Brut classic: This is elaborated from three grape types, a mix of either Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Syrah, etc. It is delicate and dry.
Blanc de blancs are made uniquely from chardonnay grapes. This sparkling wine family is crisp yet creamy and delicate.
Blanc de noir (white of black): This is delivered from pinot black or pinot meunier grapes. It has more body and higher alcohol level.
Rosé: These sparkling wines are the result of an alliance of black and white grapes and are very aromatic and full-bodied. A dry rosé goes well with prawns, shrimps, and exotic dishes. But it is more traditionally served with desserts.
And more originally is an adopted family: Red sparkling wines. The principal quality of this original wine is its intense vinous character, and its soft and harmoniously blended tannins. Red sparkling wine will be perfect as an accompaniment with red-fruit or chocolate desserts.
Sugar? Yes, please!
Now among these four families, there are several bases of sugar content that make a drier or sweeter sparkling wine: the amount of sugar added after the second fermentation and aging varies and will dictate the sweetness level of the sparkling wine.
Brut (dry) contains 6 to 20 grams of sugar per liter. A Brut sparkling wine is delicate, winey and very pleasant in the mouth; it is particularly smooth and well-balanced. You will appreciate it as an aperitif or on festive occasions, or to accompany seafood, fish, and white meat.
Demi-sec(half-dry) contains 33 à 50 grams of sugar per liter. Demi-sec sparkling wines are rich, full, and clearly perceptible in the mouth. It makes a wonderful drink to accompany foie-gras and all desserts.
Doux (Sweet) wines contain more than 50 grams of sugar per liter. A sweet sparkling wine has body and a developed flavor. It can be consumed with biscuits or chocolate desserts.
Bubbles can go along with an entire meal! From a blanc to blanc to kick off the dinner, then pop the cork of a blanc de noir for the main dish, finish off with a sparkling rosé for dessert. Just remember that alcohol is to be drunk with moderation. A bottle serves about 6 people. Cheers and bonne degustation!