Uncorked: Differentiating Sparkling Wines of the World

28th February 2023

Uncorked Differentiating Sparkling Wines of the World

Pop, fizz, clink! You have a celebration approaching, and you need a bottle of bubbles to celebrate. But what wine should you buy? And when you are in the store staring at the array of wines on the shelves, what is the difference between the many types of sparkling wine? Here is your guide to the different types of sparkling wine to perfect your next toast (or Tuesday!).

Italian Sparkling Wine

High Altitude Vineyards in the Trento DOC region


Asti is a sweet sparkler from the Piedmont region of Italy with flavors of stone fruits like peach and apricot. Moscato d’Asti uses Moscato grapes to produce sweet and spritzy white bubbly. Meanwhile, Brachetto d’Acqui is made from Brachetto grapes and makes a scrumptious sparkling red to pair perfectly with your favorite chocolatey dessert!


Franciacorta is a wine from the Lombardi region of Italy using the same method as in the Champagne region of France — the traditional method. The traditional method involves adding yeast and sugar to a base wine, fermenting this mixture in a bottle, rotating the bottle to collect dead yeast in the bottle’s neck, removing this dead yeast (known as disgorging), then finally adding a wine and sugar mixture (called a dosage) to create the final product of sparkling wine. Franciacorta is a high-quality sparkling wine comprised primarily of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes.


Prosecco is a sparkling wine originating in Italy’s Veneto region. Prosecco wine is produced from Prosecco (Glera) grapes in large tanks, which is an inexpensive method yielding high quantities. This wine can be sparkling or semi-sparkling, dry or sweet (or somewhere in between!), and white or rosé (my personal favorite).

French Sparkling Wines


Champagne is world-renowned due to its excellent quality! The Champagne region holds winemakers and grape growers to high standards to ensure the wine’s quality and preserve the region’s esteemed reputation. Champagne is made using a traditional method mostly with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes. Champagne wine is from the Champagne region of France, and you can find both white and rosé Champagnes made here. If it’s not from this region, it’s considered ‘sparkling wine’ rather than Champagne.


Crémant is another sparkling wine from France, deriving from French regions such as Loire, Burgundy, Jura, and Alsace. Each region incorporates different grapes into its Crémant, but Crémant is always made with a second bottle fermentation—just like Champagne! French wine laws demand that Crémant grapes are manually harvested and that Crémant wine is aged for a certain length of time, boosting this wine’s quality by improving appearance and flavor. Burgundy Crémant is my personal favorite because it utilizes Champagne’s favorite grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as Champagne’s winemaking techniques, but for a fraction of the cost!

Austrian and German Sparkling Wine


Both Austria and Germany produce sparkling wine known as Sekt, and each country does so using different regional grape varieties. Most Sekt is produced using the tank method used for Prosecco, but higher quality Sekt wines are on the rise as well in each of these countries.

Spanish Sparkling Wine

Cava is made via the same process as is Champagne


Cava shares many similarities with Champagne, but for a lesser price! Hailing from Northern Spain, Cava primarily comes from Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarello grapes, but Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Trepat, Garnacha, and Monastrell are also used. Cava is produced through the traditional method that is also employed for Champagne.

Portuguese and Argentinian Sparkling Wine


Argentina and Portugal each produce a sparkling wine known as Espumante, which means ‘bubbly’ or ‘sparkling’ in Portuguese and Spanish. Portugal produces Espumante from the north to the south, and it is made in various methods — from injecting carbon dioxide for the cheapest options to the traditional method (used in Champagne) for the most expensive options.

American, Australian, and Chilean Sparkling Wines

America, Australia, and Chile all produce sparkling wine, and each country uses local varieties to make delicious sparkling drinks!

Sparkling Wine in America

America produces sparkling wine primarily in Oregon and California, while New York produces some quality bubbles too.

Sparkling Wine in Australia

Australian sparkling wine production uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz (Syrah) grapes. Sparkling Shiraz, a sparkling red wine, is a unique option for your toast! The beautiful ruby color pops (no pun intended) with effervescent bubbles. Excellent Australian sparkling wines come from the Tasmania, Macedon Ranges, Great Western/Grampians, Adelaide Hills, Hunter Valley, and Tumbarumba regions.

Sparkling Wine in Chile

Chilean sparkling wines depend on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as the main grapes, but sometimes winemakers also incorporate Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah. There are two methods for Chilean sparkling wine production: the traditional method and the ancestral method. The ancestral method uses cold temperatures to halt fermentation midway. The wine is bottled, fermentation finishes, and the wine is riddled and disgorged (the yeast is removed).

South African Sparkling Wine

what is method cap classique

Cap Classique

South Africa has its own sparkling wine known as Cap Classique. These are wines produced in the Cape via the traditional method, and the climate yields citrusy and fruity flavors perfect for spring or summer!

Now you are officially prepared to face the wine aisle and confidently select the perfect bubbly no matter the occasion. As the wise Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.”

Adapted from Kendal Koorenny’s article New Year’s Eve Uncorked: Types of Sparkling Wine Explained originally published by Spoon University.

Image Credit – PortugalSpainAustriaGermanyUSAAustraliaFrance

Kendal Koorenny

Certified sommelier and viticulture and enology master’s student at UC Davis researching wine sensory science. She adores coffee, wine, food, cats and cocktails! Follow her adventures on Instagram and Tiktok @GrapesandHighHeels.