Italy is home to an abundance of sparkling wines, led by Prosecco as the flagship. But don't underestimate Italy's other offerings when it comes to bubbly wines: Gavi di Gavi is a light yet citrusy expression of Verdicchio with depth enough for pairing food, while Piedmont Alta Langa and Lombardy Franciacorta Metodo Classico offer comparable options that stand up against champagne.
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Bianco grape varieties produce these refined sparkling wines which are widely known for their elegance and use of the traditional Champagne method. Look for Brut and Extra Brut with less than 12 grams of residual sugar to find your ideal Champagne style sparkler.
Prosecco is an irresistibly delicious sparkling white wine often enjoyed as an aperitif. Made with Glera grapes from Italy's Prosecco region, Prosecco boasts fruity aromas of wisteria and flavors like melons, peaches, and apricots - perfect for an elegant evening drink!
One of the world's best-selling Italian wines, and quickly becoming increasingly admired and sought-after over time. Used as the foundation for many popular cocktails such as Hugo and Spritz.
In 2009, Prosecco wine became registered as a DOC within the EU and Glera grape was officially renamed. Under DOC regulations, at least 85% of Prosecco blend must consist of Glera; other varieties like Valdobbiadene grapes as well as Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio may account for 15%. Oenologists are responsible for overseeing its creation.
Lambrusco is a low-ABV sparkling wine made from various grape varieties with refreshing acidity and fruit flavors, often produced in frizzante or spumante style, and often offered with various degrees of dryness / sweetness from secco (bone dry), amabile or dolce depending on personal preferences. Lambrusco pairs perfectly with many foods and can be enjoyed from brunch right up through to an evening aperitivo hour!
There are nine varieties of Lambrusco wine, but the most well-known variety is Grasparossa - producing deep purple wines with a strong tannic bite and fruitiness. Sorbara produces bright strawberry-colored wines with less fruitiness and less tannic structure; Maestri and Marani varieties offer floral aromas in light pink hues while dioecious Lambrusco Salamino produces rose colored wines with milder aromas and sweeter flavour profiles.
Lambrusco is predominantly produced in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy, more specifically the provinces of Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma. Consumed as part of an everyday menu there, Lambrusco pairs perfectly with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, prosciutto di Parma salami and balsamic vinegar for an enjoyable drinking experience.
Franciacorta is Lombardy's sparkling counterpart to Champagne. Although relatively young as a wine region - having begun commercial production only in 1961 with DOCG designation awarded two decades later- Franciacorta is giving more established bubbly producers like Champagne a run for their money.
Franciacorta (so-called due to its 13th-century roots as a "francae curtes," or tax-free zone) spans 19 townships within Brescia province. Grapes are harvested by hand and then subjected to pressing with no destemming prior to secondary fermentation in bottles; their wines typically require extended cellar aging than traditional Champagnes.
Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco are the primary grape varieties used in Franciacorta; however a native variety known as Erbamat may make up to 10% of each blend. Producers have started experimenting with this late ripening variety that produces higher acidity levels to add vibrancy to their sparklers; creating rich and fruity aromas including green apple, peach, white cherry, lemon lime and floral flavors while lees ageing lends its creamy characteristics that completes its complexity.
Metodo Classico sparkling wines are produced using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes and aged on the lees for at least two years before release onto the market. Citrus fruits, white flowers, brioche flavors and bubbles characterize this style of sparkling wine; its acidity pairs well with seafood dishes such as scampi. Risotto or pasta with creamy sauces also pair nicely.
Canelli, Asti and other Piedmont wine towns remember the 19th-century "gold rush" when massive underground cellars were built to store millions of bottles of traditional-method sparkling wines.
As Charmat method production became popular due to grape varieties like Moscato becoming more widely planted, metodo Classico production became less important; but in recent decades a handful of producers revived metodo Classico production again.
Even though Dom Perignon is often credited as having invented Champagne, quality sparkling wine had long been a luxury good in Renaissance and Mannerist Italy.
Trentodoc became the first area outside Champagne to receive a DOC designation for metodo classico wines made with Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco grape varieties.