THE EPITOME OF TRIUMPH, LUXURY AND JOIE DE VIVRE
There is always something to celebrate, be it a wedding, birthday, anniversary, Christmas or New Year’s Eve, toast with friends or just to reward yourself. Sometimes the simple opening of a champagne bottle is enough to celebrate. Champagne, once only enjoyed by kings and emperors, has gained a large global following, with around 300-350 million bottles produced each year. Just opening a champagne bottle is pretty exciting because the pressure in the bottle is 6 bars.
The most spectacular method, however, is to behead them with a champagne saber, also known as sabrage of which Napoleon is considered to be the founder. During his reign, champagne experienced an unprecedented soaring. He celebrated his victories and his coronation as emperor with champagne, and the year 1812 was to be one of the best champagne vintages of all time.
However, not every sparkling wine is champagne. So what’s the difference? Put simply, the generic term “sparkling wine” describes those wines that have been enriched with carbonic acid and therefore have an overpressure of at least 3 bar at 20° C. The most important method for this is bottle fermentation. However, there are significant differences between the origin, the grapes used and the production process for all sparkling wines, which of course also leads to price and taste differences.
The most famous sparkling wines come from special areas and are produced in compliance with the strictest guidelines: This applies to Prosecco, Cava and Champagne. Champagne can only be called the sparkling wine that is grown and produced in Champagne, France. Cava is a sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen status from Spain, which is also made with bottle fermentation, and Prosecco from the province of Treviso in Veneto in Italy.
Although Cava mostly comes on the market at a price similar to Prosecco, it is more similar to champagne in character and production. In addition to the different grape varieties, the fermentation process between the two is also slightly different. Both champagne and cava go through a two-step fermentation process, and while the first fermentation is the same for both wines, the times for the second fermentation change.
The minimum storage time for Cava is at least 9 months, (with the Reserva Cava spending at least 15 months and the Gran Reserva even 36 months in the cellar) and for Champagne at least 15 months. In practice, most champagnes are stored longer: two to three years for wines without a vintage and three to ten years for vintage champagnes. In contrast to champagne or Cava, the second fermentation of Prosecco takes place in tanks instead of in individual bottles.
This article was first published in Issue 15