News: SA Sparkling Wine and Things to know before you pop the cork

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SA Sparkling Wine and Things to know before you pop the cork

Wine enthusiasts may be aware that Champagne is a sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wines can be called Champagne.


Only those wines produced in the Champagne region of France can be designated by this name officially.


We all love us some sparkling wine to put us in the celebratory mood with our friends and family. Whether it is on New Year's Eve, a birthday, a wedding anniversary - getting clued up on sparkling wine won’t hurt.


The latest on sparkling wine

These days, sparkling wine is used for different purposes. One of these being to enhance cocktails - although this will not take away from the drink’s current flavour profile.


What kind of bubbly do you get in South Africa?

South Africa imports many great bubblies, including Cava from Spain, Spumante and Prosecco from Italy and Cre´mant and Champagne from France. We also make delicious sparkling wine and Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) right here in Mzanzi.


Is MCC the same as Champagne?

MCC is pretty much the same as Champagne. The only difference is that Champagne grapes must be grown in the Champagne region of France, while we use local grapes for our MCCs.


What types of MCC do we get?

The main criteria are vintage (the harvest year), grape cultivar (the type of grapes used) and sugar level (how sweet it is).


Vintage bubbly is made from a single harvest, while non-vintage bubbly is made from a blend. While vintage can be superior, non-vintage is consistent – it’s the house style you can rely on. For example, if you buy Pongrácz Brut MCC you know it’s consistently good every time, while the Pongrácz Desiderius MCC 2008 Vintage is an extra special (and limited) offering.


MCC is most commonly made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, and to a lesser extent Chenin Blanc and Pinotage … but anything goes. Labels will either show the cultivar or the stylistic name, like Blanc de Blanc (made purely from white grapes), Blanc de Noir (from dark grapes) or Rosé (a blend).

For example, Laborie MCC Blanc de Blanc 2010 is made with 100% Chardonnay, Beau Joubert Blanc de Noir MCC 2013 is 100% Pinot Noir, and Villiera Tradition Rosé Brut NV is 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinotage, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier.


In descending order of sweetness, you’ve got Sweet (or Doux), Semi-sweet (or Demi-sec), Dry (or Sec), Extra Dry, Brut, Extra Brut and Brut Nature. Most of our MCC is Brut.


Does your glass matter?

It may be weird but, in this case size does matter! Bubbly glasses are designed to best show off the product. Depending on what you prefer, use the coupe, flute or tulip. The coupe is the traditional bubbly glass, although it is believed that it was modelled on the breast of Marie Antoinette, it was designed long before her reign, when bubbly was not as fizzy as today.