Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it, making it fizzy. While the phrase commonly refers to champagne, EU countries legally reserve that term for products exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine is usually either white or rosé, but there are examples of red sparkling wines such as the Italian Brachetto, Bonarda and Lambrusco, and the Australian sparkling Shiraz. The sweetness of sparkling wine can range from very dry brut styles to sweeter doux varieties (French for ‘hard’ and ‘soft’, respectively).
The sparkling quality of these wines comes from its carbon dioxide content and may be the result of natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the traditional method, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of simple carbon dioxide injection in some cheaper sparkling wines.
In EU countries, the word “champagne” is reserved by law only for sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. The French terms Mousseux and Crémant refer to sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region, such as Blanquette de Limoux produced in Southern France. Sparkling wines are produced around the world, and are often referred to by their local name or region, such as Espumante from Portugal, Cava from Catalonia, Prosecco, Franciacorta, Trento DOC, Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico and Asti from Italy (the generic Italian term for sparkling wine being spumante), and Cap Classique from South Africa. Sparkling wines have been produced in Central and Eastern Europe since the early 19th-century. “Champagne” was further popularised in the region, late in the century, when József Törley started production in Hungary using French methods, learned as an apprentice in Reims. Törley has since become one of the largest European producers of sparkling wine. The United States is a significant producer of sparkling wine today, with producers in numerous states. Recently, production of sparkling wine has re-started in the United Kingdom after a long hiatus.
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