Australian Sparkling Wine Styles
When it comes to celebrating milestone occasions like birthdays and weddings, or ringing in the New Year, there is no style of wine more popular or appropriate than Sparkling. But how many types of Sparkling wine are there? How does Sparkling compare to Champagne? How is Sparkling wine made? And what is the best Sparkling wine? Let’s pop the cork on all things Sparkling and find out!
Australian Sparkling wine consists of many different styles, each unique in their own way, and each offering a distinctive flavour experience. The dominant styles of Sparkling in Australia are Sparkling White wines, Prosecco, Sparkling Rosé, and Sparkling Red wines.
Let’s take a look at each in turn with this guide to all things Australian Sparkling!
SPARKLING WHITE WINE
Classic Sparkling White wines are typically modelled after Champagne. Like Champagne, Australian Sparkling is generally made from one or more of the following three grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; grapes originally grown within the famed ‘Champagne’ region of northern France, hence the name.
The Champagne industry of France is highly regulated with winemakers adhering to strict production guidelines involving growing, yield, and méthode champenoise. Also known as méthode traditionelle, this term describes the process by which Champagne is developed.
Even today, Champagne is often used as a generic term to describe Sparkling wine. Over a decade ago, however, the European Union pushed for tighter controls regarding their wines, meaning other wine-producing nations could no longer use names such as Port, Sherry and Champagne. As such, here in Australia we refer to Champagne-style wines as Sparklings.
In Australia, Sparkling White wine is commonly made using Chardonnay grapes to create wine that’s medium-bodied and dry, often possessing fruit-forward flavours of peach, apple, grapefruit and melon. Most Australian Sparkling wine producers will also make a Non-Vintage each year that’s blended across vintages, to produce a consistent product that fans can return to again and again for their celebrations.
For more on Australian Sparkling White wine, including how it’s made and the regions that do it best, check out our comprehensive Sparkling wine explainer.
Ideal Sparkling White wine food matches
Canapes and entrées like fresh oysters, scallops, sushi, mains featuring salmon, duck, mushrooms, and cheeses.
For more on Australian Sparkling White wine, including how it’s made and the regions that do it best, check out our comprehensive Sparkling wine explainer. For a taste of Australian Sparkling wine, including top selections from the star-performing region of Tasmania, check out our latest offers from our Festive Catalogue, Indulge.
Prosecco dates back to Roman times when it was known as Puccino. The bubbly style we know today emerged in the early 1900s, thanks to the invention of secondary fermentation techniques.
Made from the grape varietal Glera, it is today considered one of the most popular Sparkling wine styles, almost rivalling Sparkling whites for those looking to celebrate with a little something special.
There are three main styles of Prosecco: dry and still; lightly sparkling Frizzante; and foaming Spumante. The dry, still style however is rarely seen outside of its native Italy, with Spumante being the most common style here in Australia.
Like Sparkling wine, Prosecco is made using secondary fermentation and is bottled under pressure. This results in a lower-alcohol wine, driven by bright fruit and acidity rather than the savoury qualities of Champagne.
Victoria’s King Valley – often referred to as the Little Italy of Australian wine – is the undisputed home of Australian Prosecco, which is characterised by white peach, pear and citrus flavours with floral notes of jasmine and hints of pistachio nut.
For more on Australian Prosecco, including how it’s made and the regions that do it best, check out this article detailing Australia’s famed Prosecco Road.
Ideal Prosecco food matches
A very food-friendly style, Prosecco matches well with seafood, antipasto plates and tapas.
For your own taste of Australian Prosecco check out our latest offers from our Festive Catalogue, Indulge.
Rosé is the perfect way to celebrate the sun setting on a tumultuous day. Well, what about a turbulent year? Perhaps something with a bit of extra energy, extra vigour, extra verve, extra zest. Maybe even some extra spark…
That’s where Sparkling Rosé comes in, and the good news is that when it comes to this increasingly popular style, there really is something for everyone! But what makes a Sparkling Rosé, and why are they so worthy of your attention?
The main difference between white Sparkling wines and Rosé Sparkling wines is the time spent on skins, known as maceration. Red grape skins are left to macerate in juice for a short amount of time (4-12 hours) to extract colour, flavour, and some tannin. Then, when the ideal colour has been achieved, the juice is filtered off the skins and primary fermentation is completed like a white wine.
Then, just as with any Sparkling White wine, Sparkling Rosé wines receive their bubbles from either the tank, or ‘charmat’ method, where large, pressurised tanks complete the secondary fermentation to instil bubbles into the base wine; or via the traditional method (méthode traditionelle), where secondary fermentation naturally occurs inside the bottle, trapping carbon dioxide and suffusing bubbles into the wine.
The three classic grape varieties of Champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – are also prominent in many Sparkling Rosé wines. When making Sparkling Rosé, however, many winemakers tend to use the delicate red berries of the Pinot Noir grape to bring out the blushing pink hues that make these wines so attractive, though any red wine grape variety can be used.
For more on Australian Sparkling Rosé, including how it’s made and the regions that do it best, check out this Sparkling Rosé tasting from our friends at Selector.
Ideal Sparkling Rosé food matches
Canapes and entrées like fresh oysters, charcuterie and cheese boards, dishes with tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan, anchovies and soy sauce.
For your own taste of Australian Sparkling Rosé check out our latest offers from our Festive Catalogue, Indulge.
SPARKLING RED WINE
Deliciously complex, sophisticated and uniquely Australian, Sparkling Reds are the perfect choice to spice up your special occasions and bring some delectable delight to any celebration.
As with other Sparkling wines, Sparkling Reds are a style, not a variety. Filled with exotic spices, rich red fruits, velvety tannins and beautiful bubbles, they can be made from several red wine grapes including Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet, Chambourcin, Pinot Noir and Durif.
Australian Sparkling Red wines were referred to as ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ until the EU outlawed the use of the name. And while Sparkling Red wines date back to Etruscan times, the style – and in particular, Sparkling Shiraz – is one that Australia has made all its own.
Sparkling Red wines are typically very ripe and rely on rich fruit characters, combined usually with a degree of sweetness, to achieve their impact. In their youth they are deep, crimson red in colour, vibrantly fruit-driven, really juicy and surprisingly refreshing when served chilled. The palate should be rich and complex with soft tannins and sweet berry flavours.
Aged styles of Sparkling Reds make truly sublime wines. The bead and mouthfeel are softened and delicate and the wine takes on intriguing savoury characters of leather, tobacco and cedar.
For more on Australian Sparkling Red wine, including how it’s made and the regions that do it best, check out this detailed Sparkling Reds explainer.
Ideal Sparkling Red wine food matches
A superb festive wine, ideal with classic roasts, clove-studded ham, or roast turkey. Also delicious with barbequed ribs, Chinese roast duck and chocolate desserts.
For your own taste of Australian Sparkling Red wine, check out our latest offers from our Festive Catalogue, Indulge.
As you can see, there is no shortage of quality Sparkling styles to bring the bubbles to your next special occasion. Whether you prefer the classic Champagne-style qualities of Australian Sparkling, the dry, refined delights of Prosecco, the vibrant deliciousness of Sparkling Rosé or the indulgent opulence of Australian Sparkling Reds, there’s a Sparkling style to suit your taste. So raise your glass and say a big old ‘Cheers!’ to the wide world of Australian Sparkling wines!