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Champagne

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Champagne

Champagne is a sparkling wine from France that must adhere strictly to A.O.C. laws in order to place the word Champagne on the bottle. Many people use the words Champagne and Sparkling Wine interchangeably however, this is a mistake. In order to bear the name Champagne on a bottle, legally it must be certified by the A.O.C. that the wine inside is made only from permitted grapes harvested in the Champagne region of France. This is done in an attempt to separate true French Champagne from lower quality sparkling wines. The other criterion that separates the two is the method of fermentation used. All French Champagnes must use the Methode Champenoise style of fermentation- the original way Champagne was made also, the most expensive and time consuming of the three processes. Sparkling Wines can be fermented using any of the four methods of fermentation: Methode Champenoise, Transfer Method, Charmat Bulk Process or Gas Injection. The main difference between the four is that in Methode Champenoise the bottle opening is then sealed with an old fashioned soda bottle cap and placed on a rack with the cap pointed downward, this aids in moving the lees (dead yeast cells) toward the bidule. On the rack the bottles are slowly turned and tilted each day to push the lees into the bidule, this process is called riddling. When all the sediment has been collected it is then removed by a process called disgorgement-the freezing of the bottles neck, shooting the bidule out followed by the addition of dosage (wine and sugar mixture) which controls the final measure of dryness. The Transfer Method and the Charmat Bulk Process are both variations on this method that result in a lesser quality wine. Sparkling wines produced using the Gas Injection Method are usually the poorest of quality. Here more dosage is added toward the end of the process to mask the flaws in the inferior sparklers with sweetness.

Asti- Produced in Piedmont, Italy. Asti wines (formerly Asti Spumante) are sweet, fully sparkling wines that are low in alcohol. They are aromatic and often exhibit peach and apricot flavors. Moscato d’Asti wines are primarily the same except that they are finished frizzante style, meaning lightly sparkling. Asti and Moscato d’Asti pair well with most deserts.
Cava- Produced primarily in the Pendes region of Spain, these wines are fully sparkling and usually bone dry. They usually have and intense aromas of pear and citrus. They have a clean lemony finish on the pallet and pair well with delicately flavored seafood.

Prosecco- Produced in Venetia, Italy. These are lightly sparkling frizzante wines that in general tend to be a little sweeter then other sparklers and can easily identified by the slightly bitter almond taste that is present on the pallet. These wines pair will with salads and lighter styled desserts.
French Champagne- Produced in Champagne, France. These wines are fully sparkling and are made with varying levels of sweetness. Most give off a certain amount of yeast on the nose and stone fruits on the pallet. They are usually present at the beginning of most celebrations and go exceptionally well with oysters, lobster and Asian dishes.
Rose Champagne- Produced in Champagne, France. These fully sparkling wines are made with only the approved dark colored grapes and then, unlike regular champagne the juice is allowed to have contact with the grape skins. Skin contact is what gives Rose Champagne its color, backbone and the bright aroma of strawberry and raspberry, as well as other red berry flavors.
Sparkling Wines- Produced in the United States. These wines are made in many different areas in the US. These wines tend to be intense and complex. They are made in a number of styles with varying levels of dryness. They are able do be enjoyed as aperitifs and as a seafood accompaniment.
Sparkling Rose Wines- Produced in the United States. These fully sparkling wines like their white counterpart are made in many different areas in the US. They too have skin contact with the darker colored grapes and yield a crisper livelier sparkler with bright red fruits. Pairs well with Cream and Beet Risottos and Chicken Sofrito.