In Myrtle Takes Tea, the Duke of Earl Grey is a lover of sparkling grape juice, but
in reality he is a lover and connoisseur of Champagne. A sparkling wine that comes
from the Champagne region of France, its fizziness is created by storing fermented
wine from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grapes in bottles then adding yeast
and allowing it to undergo a second fermentation inside the bottle to create carbonation
(méthode champenoise). This process creates the finest, most expensive sparkling
wine in the world, and only wine from the Champagne region of France can be called
“Champagne” by law.
Champagne is the ubiquitous symbol of celebration and luxury. It was originally
a non-sparkling, sweet rosé-coloured wine, but the English were the first to take
Champagne and turn it into a sparkling wine in the second half of the 17th century.
Brut (dry, or non-sweet) Champagne was a later invention of the 19th century.
However, the English sparkling wine industry is growing and now rivaling Champagne
in quality and popularity. Grown in Southern England, English sparkling wine shares
the same growing conditions as the Champagne region of France. Its taste is more
favourable than many Champagnes, yet the two are often priced in a similar range.
Cava, bottle-fermented sparkling wine from Spain, is a more affordable way of enjoying
bubbly without sacrificing on quality. Freixenet and Cordoniu produce our favourite
Cavas. France also produces less expensive sparkling wines of varying quality: Crémant
d’Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Limoux, and Crémant de Loire to name the
most important regions.