Champagne & Sparkling Wine
It’s been used to toast countless marriages, births and New Year’s Eves. As a symbol of celebration, no other beverage beats Champagne. True Champagne is produced only in the eponymous French region using a blend of grapes that can include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. But bubbles are hardly limited to Champagne. A surge in popularity has made it easier to acquire other, often wallet-friendlier sparkling wines such as Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava. These wines all obtain their palate-pleasing bubbles through a process called secondary fermentation, though the actual wines vary widely in flavor, running the gamut from dry to sweet. Don’t wait for a special occasion to pop these bottles. Dry (brut) sparkling wines have a food-friendly acidity that helps them pair well with everything from oysters to fried chicken; sweeter wines, such as Moscato d’Asti, work well with dessert or as a foil to spicy cuisines. F&W’s guide to Champagne and sparkling wine includes lessons from top sommeliers, delicious cocktails to make at home and the best bottles to buy (even on a budget).