Wine Styles - Sparkling Wine

There are 5 basic wine styles: sparkling wine, white wine, red wine, fortified wine and dessert wine. Every Australian wine can be classified into one of these five types.

Sparkling wine comes in all shapes and sizes - white, red, pink, dry, sweet, light, rich - however it is the bubbles that make sparkling wine different from other table wines. As with all wines, the style is largely determined by the grape variety and the method by which the wine is made

Sparkling wine starts off as a still, base wine with no bubbles. It is made from a first fermentation, in the same way as normal table wine. Various base wines are blended, the blended wine is bottled with a little sugar and yeast and a second fermentation occurs inside the bottle. Fermentation is where yeasts eat up sugar and create alcohol. Carbon dioxide is given off as a by-product. As a normal table wine undergoes this process the vat may be open and the escaping gas can be seen bubbling on the surface. However, if the fermentation is carried out in a closed container, then the gas cannot escape and it dissolves in the wine, thus creating the bubbles.

The most common style of sparkling wine is a blend of several grape varieties and sometimes vintages in order to produce a consistent product from year to year. This is known as non-vintage sparkling. Sparkling wine made with grapes from one single year is known as vintage sparkling.

There are three key production methods for sparkling wines. The Traditional Method is where the secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle. The wine is matured on yeast lees before riddling, removal of lees, disgorgement, dosage and sealing the bottle. The Transfer Method is the same as the Traditional method, except following secondary fermentation in the bottle, the wine is placed into a tank, and clarified before re-bottling. The Charmat Method involves a secondary fermentation in a specially designed pressure tank. The wine is then fined and filtered under pressure.

While production method can certainly help determine style, the real quality direction of the wine lies in the initial preparation of the base wine.

Sparkling Red
Australia's unique style of wine, Sparkling Reds have been made since the 1860's; mainly from rich, full-bodied Shiraz. These wines have great fruit, slight tannin and sweetness to give great balance and are held in high regard as a festive drink. This wine pairs well with the turkey at Christmas!

Sparkling White
Chardonnay is often used to produce Sparkling Whites. Sparkling Australian White wine versions vary from everyday fizz, full of fruit and fun, to top-notch traditionally made (fermented in the bottle) true classics. The past practice in Australia and elsewhere of labelling wines 'Methode Champenoise' has been stopped by laws in force around the world. The term 'traditional method' is often used to denote sparkling white produced using the champagne procedure. The cool regions of Australia such as Tasmania and the Yarra Valley tend to produce the best grapes for these sparkling wines.

Sparkling Rose
Some Ros? (light pink coloured) styles of sparkling wine are made by allowing red grapes to stay in contact with the skins to pick up the colour, however Ros? sparkling wines are mostly produced by including a red wine in the blending process to enable greater control.

Users Reading this article are also interested in:
Top Searches on Wine Guide:
Sparkling Wine Wine Champagne And Sparkling Wine
About The Author, Ian Love
Ian Love is director of Perth Restaurants group West Valley, which runs Coco's Perth restaurant, Raffles Hotel Perth & Bellhouse Seafood restaurant.