Italian Bubbles

How well do you know your sparkling wine?

Below we have a simple overview of the 2 most common styles of sparkling wine.

As usual with wine, there is always something more to learn (and exceptions to the rules) but to keep it simple let's start with the most important styles. If you want to explore more, look out for the old technique known as Ancestral Method :)



Wine undergoes 1st fermentation before being bottled with yeast to initiate a 2nd fermentation. This creates the bubbles (CO2) directly in the bottle.

Next, bottles are aged ‘on the lees’ (yeast) and are rotated (riddling) so that the dead yeast falls into the bottle neck, which is then frozen to force out a block of yeast (disgorging) before the final cork is secured. If the winemaker decides to add sugar (dosage*) this is done after disgorging.


Fine, persistent perlage (6-7 atmospheres of pressure) with biscuit aromas.


* Metodo Classico
* Franciacorte DOCG
* Trento DOC


In addition to the world’s most famous sparkling wine from Champagne, all these listed below are made using the BOTTLE (Traditional) Method:

Crémant, Spanish Cava (Riserva & Gran Riserva), South African Méthode Cap Classique, Australian Sparkling Shiraz (a.k.a Sparkling Burgundy) & Méthode Tasmanoise and in the UK look for houses like Chapel Down, Hoffmann and Rathbone, Lyme Bay, Nyetimber, Oxney and Ridgeview.

Shop for examples of BOTTLE METHOD bubbles here: bubbles/style_metodo-classico


Wine undergoes 1st fermentation in stainless vats and then moves to a pressure-resistant tank (auto-clave) for the 2nd fermentation. Over the next 10 days the bubbles (CO2) are trapped inside the tank.

The sparkling wine is then filtered and if the winemaker decides to add sugar (dosage*) it is done at this stage before the final bottling.

Medium to large bubbles (2-4 atmospheres of pressure) with a fruity nose.

* Prosecco (Superiore, Millesimato)
* Lambrusco (Secco, Semisecco, Dolce)
* Asti Spumante

Shop for examples of TANK METHOD bubbles here: bubbles/style_charmat-method

*DOSAGE: Tank method sparkling is usually Brut, Extra Dry or Dry. Bottle method sparkling can be labelled Brut Nature, Extra Brut or Demi Sec and Doux.



DOSAGE – a note on sweetness levels

Sparkling wine can be quite tart from natural acidity levels. Dosage is a technique to balance the perceived sweetness of the wine.

TIP: when you see the term ‘Brut’ it refers to a ‘raw’ or natural state, which is why a ‘Dry’ wine will be closer to sweet (doux) on the dosage notes below:

* Brut Nature = 0-3 g/l (<1/6 tsp) 
* Extra Brut = 0-6 g/l (<1/4 tsp) 
* Brut = 0-12 g/l (<1/2 tsp) 
* Extra Dry = 12-17 g/l (<3/4 tsp) 
* Dry = 17-32 g/l (<1 tsp) 
* Demi Sec = 32-50 g/l (1-2 tsp)
* Doux = 50+ g/l (>2 tsp)

*RS = residual sugar (tsp = teaspoon per average 5 oz serving)
GOOD NEWS: it doesn’t require much added sugar to ‘sweeten’ wine (unlike many other popular alcoholic beverages, such as a G&T with 14g in a typical 6 oz serving) so a glass of bubbles is still a good bet if you’re counting calories!

BubblesCavaChampagneCharmatMetodo classicoProsecco