Blog: Celebrate the Holidays with Sparkling Wine


Sparkling wine is festive, fun, and flavorful — perfect for holiday entertaining. Bubblies are produced in a vast range of flavors, sweetness levels, complexity, and prices. They are the most versatile wines made, pairing with just about everything on your holiday table. Or, they’re delectable all by themselves.

Sparklers are made just about everywhere, from Australia to Spain, Germany, Italy, and of course Champagne in France. Wonderful examples are produced in northern Michigan, as well.

Definitions and Process

What is sparkling wine? It is a term used to identify any table wine with the addition of effervescence or CO2, or for the less formal, bubbles. Still or table wine must be fermented once. Sparkling must be fermented twice — once to make the wine and the other to make the bubbles.

There are two basic ways to produce quality sparkling wine. The first method is known as “methode champenoise,” the Champagne method. It’s also known as  “Methode Traditionelle,” or traditional method. The second way is the tank method.

For a sparkling wine to be called Champagne it must be from Champagne, France, and it must be produced in a very specific way from very specific grapes. The French are quite particular about this. An easy way to remember the difference between sparkling wines and Champagne is: all Champagne is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.


There are a few terms that are helpful in finding a preferred style of bubbly. A sweetness scale helps: Brut is the driest bubblies that most folks enjoy. Next on the sweetness scale is extra-dry, followed by dry, and then demi-Sec. Confused? Don’t be, these French terms are used on many styles worldwide. Sec is French for dry, extra-dry is sweeter than brut, and demi-sec (half-dry) is actually pretty sweet. The best way to determine your preferred style is to get together with friends, each bringing a bottle (or two) of a different style, you’ll have a lot of fun along the way.

A Bubbly World

Sparkling wines are made and produced worldwide, and there’s no reason to spend a lot of money. Many delicious cavas from Spain are less than $20. Prosecco from Italy is very popular for its fruity frothy and fun bubbles, and it’s usually less than $25. As mentioned earlier, wonderful sparkling wines are made right here in Michigan, so try a bottle.

Sparklers are the easiest wines in the world to pair with your favorite foods. The effervescence cleans your palate and makes it a breeze to pair with holiday dishes.

For more information, contact The Wine Counselor at

Michael Schafer is a speaker, educator, sommelier, and certified specialist of wine. Known as The Wine Counselor, he is an adjunct professor at The Culinary Institute of Michigan at Baker College, and he created the Dorsey Schools’ beverage program. He is an international keynote speaker at spirits and wine events, and has authored articles for various publications, including Hour Detroit, Michigan Wine Country magazine, and Edible Grand Traverse. Schafer is on the board of directors of the Detroit Wine Organization, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding charities through entertaining education. 

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