Beyond the big three, here are several other styles of sparkling wine that you might encounter.
Winemakers are recreating the magic of Champagne, albeit on their own terms. Combining English and German varieties, which suit the cooler climate, with the classic Champagne varieties, they are capable of producing award winning sparkling wines that are making a name for the UK wine industry.
Several French regions are able to produce ‘crémants’. This French sparkling wine style tends to produce lighter, earlier drinking sparkling wines than Champagne. The appellation rules generally allow the use of local grape varieties and stipulate lower minimum ageing thresholds.
Examples include Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire.
Sekt is a classic style of sparkling wine made in Germany, but also found in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
The lowest quality level allows grapes from across the EU to be used and wines are sometimes injected with CO2. However, the highest quality wines (Sekt b.A) use grapes from specific appellations and undergo a secondary fermentation in tanks or even in the bottle.
Pétillant naturel, often shortened to Pet nat, is a term increasingly associated with natural wines.
Although currently in vogue with hipsters, the style has been around for a long time in its méthode ancestrale guise. There is no secondary fermentation. The wine is bottled as fermentation takes place, trapping CO2 in the bottle and turning the sweet grape juice into quaffable sparkling wine.
‘Traditional method’ is often used to refer to sparkling wines made in the same way as Champagne, but which cannot be called Champagne because they come from outside the French region’s vineyard boundaries.
Sparkling wines made in this way tend to be made from some combination of the trio of Champagne grapes – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. But, this is not always the case. Cava wines are made using the traditional method and indigenous grapes, including Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo.
The secondary fermentation in bottle is what provides additional richness and complexity over most other methods.