3 Types of Sparkling Wines
Different sparkling winemaking techniques emerged thanks to technology and popularity at their respective times in history. Each offers up a unique style of tasting adventure. Traditional Method, so named because it became the norm; Pétillant Naturel, often shortened to “Pét-Nat”; And Tank Method, sometimes called “Charmat Method” which originated in France and Italy.
The Traditional Method – the Rise of Champagne
As we approach turkey day a week from today, I am sharing my thoughts about wine and food for arguably the biggest feast of the year. Hopefully at this point you have a plan of what you’re doing and preparing, but have you thought about what wine you will be serving and with what foods. Most of us are headed to our family’s house with instructions on what to bring (or not) or hosting the festivities. Maybe you’re in charge of the wine allotment. I’m sure there are mixed emotions of excitement to gather, but also a sense of feeling overwhelmed.
As the annual grape harvest begins to wind down here in the Finger Lakes (except for those grapes still hanging for late-harvest or ice wines/dessert wines) and many other Northern Hemisphere wine regions, it is a great time to talk about the different aspects of viticulture and winemaking. Oh! the magic of transforming grape juice to wine! I certainly don’t tout myself as being an expert in these areas and not a winemaker or viticulturist, but I’ve been around for different harvests at different wineries and each vintage is unique and different and has its own set of challenges.
What’s with all the different colors and shapes of wine bottles?
Wine bottles are just like people in the sense that they come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Look in a wine store and see all the variations from tall, elegant bottles to slim and short ones bursting with potential to traditionally shaped regional examples, and the unusual, creative modern ones which pop up from time to time. And then there are the colors. Pale/Kelly greens, deep inky tones, browns, blacks, and clear bottles showing off the wonderful hues within.
I introduce or re-introduce to you two distinct wine styles that are not well known or understood: Pétillant naturel, or Pét-nat, and Piquette. Pétillant naturel, or pét-nat, is becoming a popular new style for domestic wine production. Pét-nat, or Méthode Ancestrale, is a method of sparkling wine production used all over the world.
Don’t try to pair just flavors of food with wine all the time. Nice rhyme there. The best pairings can come from many other factors. Think about the acidity, spice, texture, weight, and dryness/sweetness (sugar)/fruitiness. Remember sugar in wine can help cut through and balance spice and acidity in food. Try a semi-dry/off-dry Rieslings, semi-dry Gewurztraminers, and Moscato with Thai food or other spicy Asian cuisine or high acid bubbly with, believe it or not, pizza. And traditional Champers and rose bubbly has enough structure and tannin (from grape skins) to stand up to fatty steak.