Exploring Champagne, MCC, Prosecco and Sparkling Wine
Bubbles simply make the world a happier place. From lounging in a bath, blowing soapy bubbles, or popping them—who doesn’t love bubble wrap?
Among all the ways to enjoy the light, care-free feeling we get from bubbles, sipping them is a firm favourite. We’re bubbling over with excitement. This post explores the wonderful world of Champagne, MCC, Prosecco and sparkling wine.
The Name Game: The Difference between Sparkling Wines
Has anyone ever burst your bubble when you mistakenly said “Champagne”? Who are these wine snobs – and how do we get in the club?
“Wine; All That Sparkles Is Not Champagne” —The New York Times, May 1985
It’s true, not all bubbles are equal. Similar to how an Ostrich, Peacock, and Eagle are all birds, but they aren’t the same bird. So Champagne, Prosecco, and MCC are all sparkling wines, but they are distinct in their own right.
Getting To Know Your Bubbles Better
Sparkling wines are distinguished by the grapes, methodology and region in which they are produced.
Champagne is so called when it is produced in the Champagne region of France, with only either
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes by méthode champenoise.
The revered French method for champagne making was a mistake made by Benedictine Monks, perfected by an English scientist and for many years credited solely to Dom Pérignon.
The French are quite territorial about their Champagne and the method used to create it. Both are protected by the European Union. To quote The Oxford Companion to Wine¹ “It is illegal to label any product Champagne unless it both comes from the Champagne region and is produced under the rules of the appellation.”
For this reason, any other sparkling wines created using the same method, must use a different name. You’ll typically see méthode traditionelle”, méthode classique or metodo classico. In either instance the method, in short, involves a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle which produces light, crisp bubbles.
Therefore, Prosecco, Cava, and MCC are all by virtue champagnes – even though we cannot call them that.
Caps off to Méthode Cap Classique (MCC)
Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) is South Africa’s equivalent to champagne. These sparkling wines are made following méthode traditionelle (the traditional method), using SA’s finest hand-picked grapes.
South African winemakers have impressed sommeliers across the world with their commitment to making quality MCC wines that are right up there with their French counterparts. This was evident when a South African MCC brut came first in a blind international sparkling wine taste test which included Dom Perignon, Cristal and Charles Heidseick as entrants!
Wines That Sparkle
Wine earns the name “Sparkling” when it uses artificial carbonation on the production line. You can spot a sparkling wine by the size of its bubbles. Artificial carbonation produces larger, coarser bubbles compared to the tiny, refined effervescent bubbles of Champagne and MCC.
It’s all part of the enjoyment experience. You’ll find many an ardent wine drinker interchange between MCC and sparkling wines as the mood for different bouquets and flavour profiles strike. That’s because sparkling wines lend themselves to a greater variety of grapes.
Every Day Is A Good Day for Bubbles
“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” – Madame Bollinger
Though synonymous with celebration, every day is a good day to break out the bubbles. After all, good sparkling wine is a celebration in itself!
Expand your palate and dare to explore; trying one doesn’t mean you’ve tried them all!
There’s only one thing more enjoyable than a chilled glass of the good stuff, and that’s sharing it in exquisite company.