Come Tuesday, 27th August, 2013, and the Sommelier India Tasting Panel (SITP) will get together for a blind tasting of sparkling wines to assess the particular nuances of each for SI readers and other wine enthusiasts.
What is a sparkling wine? Sparkling wine, also called bubbles among other epithets, is a fizzy wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it.
The carbon dioxide may result from natural fermentation when grape sugar and yeast are converted into alcohol, either in a bottle, as with the méthode champenoise, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of carbon dioxide injection. Since the gas can’t escape, it returns to the wine in the form of tiny bubbles that are released when the bottle is opened.
Sparkling wine comes in a wide range of quality levels, taste and price points. It is produced around the world in wine producing countries and is known as Espumante in Portugal, Cava in Spain, Franciacorta and Asti in Italy (the generic Italian term for sparkling wine is spumante) and Cap Classique in South Africa. German and Austrian sparkling wines are called Sekt.
Most countries reserve the word Champagne for a specific type of sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. The French terms “Mousseux” or “Crémant” are used to refer to sparkling wine made in other parts of France than the Champagne region.
Sparkling wine is usually white or rosé but there are many examples of red sparkling wines too, such as the UB Group’s Bouvet Ladubay Rubis Demi-Sec produced in Saumur in the Loire Valley of France.
The earliest example of sparkling wine from India was Marquise de Pompadour from Indage Vintners in Sahyadri Valley, Maharashtra, also known as Omar Khayyam in overseas markets. Sula and Zampa-Grover produce excellent white and rosé sparkling wines as does Vallonnée among a few other producers, not forgetting soon to be launched Chandon India from Moët-Hennessey and Fratelli’s Chenin Blanc sparkler. Pictured: Dindori Rosé Brut from Sula
Although not available in India, the US is a significant producer of sparkling wine with producers in numerous states. The UK has recently started producing sparkling wines that have made their mark internationally by winning several awards.
So, what kind of wines will the SI Panel sip? Watch this space for more. If you want the full story, tasting notes and the Panel’s favourite wines, don’t miss the next issue of Sommelier India!