A quick way to reveal you’re a wine novice is to call all sparkling wines “Champagne.” The term Champagne, which refers specifically to wine grown and produced in Northeast France, has morphed into something of a catch-all term, much to the chagrin of oenophiles everywhere. It’s a bit like the difference between Oreos or Q-Tips, versus the store-brand varities.
For a clear explanation of the differences between all things sparkly, I turned to Master Sommelier and Bellagio Las Vegas’ director of wine Jason Smith. What better person to ask about bubbly than a man who works and lives in a city whose tourist trade is based on poppin’ bottles?
“For people just getting into sparkling wines this might be a good introduction. Prosecco, compared to champagne, is softer and rounder. It’s a little easier drinking. It’s not as serious. It’s something you can have super chilled down while you’re taking a dip in the pool.”
Budget friendly: Borgoluce, Ca del Bosco (which is actually Franciacorta)
“Cava has got some similarities to Prosecco in that it’s a softer style, but it also has great fruit notes as well. It has both roundness of Prosecco and the mineral notes of great Champagne. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Budget friendly: Juve y Camps, Vilarnau
This is a benchmark sparkling wine from Napa. It’s complex and more fruit-forward than what you’d expect comparing California wines to European sparkling wines. There is no sweetness at all, but rather a fruitiness in the wine.”
Budget friendly: Roederer Estate, Mumm DVX, Soter Rose
“This has very bright flavors, a lot of green apple notes. It really shows off what Champagne is known for, its minerality and complexity. But pure deliciousness at the same time.”
Budget friendly: Agrapart, Vilmart, Pol Roger, Billecart-Salmon