Simple Guide to Australian Sparkling Wine

Who does not like indulging in a bubbly Champagne on a Saturday evening, curled up on the couch with a loved one? Unfortunately, not all of us can afford Champagne whenever we fell like it. To pop out the cork, this mighty fizzy wine ‘demands’ for a very elegant and special occasion.

Luckily, there are more affordable types of Australian sparkling wine which are a perfect replacement for the worldwide popular Champagne. Here’s a short and simple guide to help you make the best choice.

1. Region

The best sparkling wine in Australia is produced in the Tasmanian region. However, there are many excellent sparkling wines which come from South Australia and Victoria. For the best bubbly pick, look for the wines made in the Macedon region or Yarra Valley in Victoria or Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Grapes grown in these regions produce a sparkling wine most similar to the famous French Champagne.

2. Grapes

The best sparkling wines are made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These grape varieties give wines a Champagne-like taste, but with the Aussie character. Other grapes are rarely used. Moreover, if the label says ‘non-vintage’, it’s most likely the winemakers used a blend of grapes to get the perfect taste, and if it says ‘vintage’ it means that it was a particularly good year and only one variety was used in the production process.

3. Methods

There are two sparkling wine methods most common among winemakers:

  • Traditional – It is characteristic for the French region, however about 30% of the Australian sparkling wine winemakers rely on it. This method is all about the secondary fermentation which occurs in the bottle and for a time-consuming (10-14 days) process known as ‘riddling’ which involves gently shaking the bottle over a period of time in order to remove the dead yeast cells.
  • Transfer method – It also involves a second fermentation. However, at the end, wine from all the bottles is transferred into a larger tank where the sediment is removed. Now, the traditional method is more expensive than the transfer method, and as such it gives more softer and longer lasting bubbles despite the claim that the results from the transfer method are indistinguishable.

4. Labels

There are a few general terms you must know the meaning.

  • Extra Brut – means very dry;
  • Brut – a dry wine;
  • Extra sec – medium dry;
  • Sec – medium sweet;
  • Demi sec- a sweet wine;
  • Doux – a very sweet wine.

5. The Australian Specialty – Red Sparkling Wine

First made in 1881, the red sparkling wine is made from the Shiraz grape, despite the general belief that it is actually Pinot Noir. Merlot and Cabernet are also used to make the red bubbly. This Australian sparkling wine is known for its deep purple colour and sweet aroma. It is best served with chocolate desserts or barbecue.