As we raise a toast to bring in the new year, the excitement and cheering often times drowns out the knowledge of the contents of the champagne glass. For most people, the mere fact that there is an icy cold, gold color, bubbly liquid, served in a long stem crystal glass is enough to mark the ceremonious occasion. But some of you connoisseurs may want to know the basic differences between Sparking White, Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Cremant and Spumanti. Whether you want to buy a bottle as a gift, or show off your expertise at the bar, this broad overview would help you distinguish your bubbles.


Image courtesy of Wine Folly

Sparking White Wine – Any white wine injected with carbon dioxide to produce bubbles falls into the category of sparkling white wine. There are also red sparkling wines such as Italian Brachetto and Australian sparkling Shiraz.

Sparkling wines and Champagnes are categorized as Extra Brut, BrutExtra dry, Sec and Demi-sec depending on their sugar levels. It is easy to find a good sparkling white wine under $30.

Champagne – In order to officially be called Champagne, the bubbly needs to be from the Champagne region of France and made in accordance with specific guidelines. A good bottle will cost upwards of $60.

Cava – Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine that can be either white or rose. You can find it in varying levels of sweetness from the dry brut nature to a sweet wine. It generally has more bubbles than other sparking wines. Expect to spend around $10 for a decent bottle.

Prosecco – Originated in Italy, as a cheaper alternative to Champagne. Some of the ones you find today are of very high quality and comparable to Champagne. Budget unto $20 for a bottle of Italian Prosecco.

Cremant – The French terms “Mousseux” or “Crémant” are used to refer to sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region. This is made according to the Champagne method of fermentation in the bottle, but sometimes use different grape varieties. Generally, Cremant is less bubbly than other sparkling whites.

Espumante – A Portugese sparkling white wine and probably the cheapest version of this category. They are on the sweeter side. Its Italian name is Spumanti.

There are still other many regional versions of the bubbly drink found around the world.

While wines are named based on the variety of grapes used, sparklers need to be produced and processed according to strict guidelines in order to be labeled.

Cheers and Happy New Year!