Whisperer's guide to the bubbly wines

There are all kinds of bubbly wines from very dry wines to semi dry wines to sweeter wines. We see sparkling wines from all continents as well as wine in different shaped bottles, weird labels and crazy language designations as to what these wines really are.

Most folks have no idea what these sparkling wines are supposed to taste like simply by reading the labels so I am going to give you the "Wine Whisperer" short guide to sparkling wines.

Here we go:


This is (for practical purposes) the driest of the sparkling wines available to us. There is another term called "Natural" but we rarely see this designation in the modern wine world. The term "brut" actually means "raw" in French and tells us that the wine is supposed to be dry. Unfortunately, brut sparkling wines or Champagne vary in the dryness using this term as there is no fast and sure law guiding us on dry levels within specific terms. In other words, the term "brut" can give us all kinds of sugar levels but most of the wines using "brut" will be dry with very little or no residual sugar.

Extra dry

Uh oh! We would expect this to be the term for the driest sparkling wine or Champagne but this term tells us that the sparkling wine is not going to be as dry as a brut. Many folks who buy "extra dry" are upset that the wine might have and usually does have some sugar in it. Buying American wines with this term will guarantee a less dry bubbly.


Yikes! Well, this term means "dry." Sorry, this is usually a sweet sparkling wine or sweeter than a brut or extra dry offering. I don't know why we can't somehow straighten this mess out but these are the terms we are given to describe sparkling wines. A "demi-sec" wine is a half sweet wine that we sometimes see on a French Champagne, used to confuse the American palate even more.

Cava (Spanish sparklers)

Spanish sparkling wines go all over the board in quality. I always have a tough time figuring out these little devils as they seem to vary from year to year as to quality. Some folks seem to love these little guys but I, many times, find them too acidic for my tastes and the bubbles just don't seem to last very long in the glass.

Champagne versus sparkling wines

The French are very stern, and for good reason, telling the world that true Champagne comes from the region of Champagne, France, just northeast of Paris. This remarkable area is the home of truly magnificent sparkling wines that have years of prestige and quality to back them up. The great names of Dom Perignon, Mumm and Veuve Cliquot, among others are legendary sparkling wines that are unmatched in quality and are fetching high prices around the globe.


The fastest growing of the quality sparkling wines are the Proseccos of Italy. Dry, creamy and silky on the palate, the buying public is very hot on Prosecco and the sales of this bubbly are at an all time high. These guys are hitting from about twelve bucks to over twenty with the twenty dollar offerings out classing many bubbly wines at twice the price. A good choice for cuisine and celebration.

Asti Spumante and Moscato

Italian sweet offerings in many styles and sweetness levels. The Moscatos are the real charmers with low alcohol and slight bubbling. These sparkling wines offer delicacy, elegance and long, fruit filled finishes. Molto Buono!

Well, there's the short list for you. See you next week!

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