As sparkling wines need high acidity, they are made, unsurprisingly, in the cooler areas of the country. Bairrada sparkling wine has a fine reputation, made from quick-pressed red Baga or Touriga Nacional grapes, fragrant white Maria Gomes, Arinto, Bical and sometimes nowadays Chardonnay. Cool, high-altitude Távora-Varosa, south of the Douro, north of Dão, makes sparkling wines from the Malvasia Fina and, increasingly, the Champagne grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Vinho Verde, where many wines have just a prickle of fizz, added fully sparkling wines to its regulations just in time for the Millennium.

When to drink & Food pairings

Refreshing in the heat of summer, and cheering in the cold of winter, sparking wine is perfect for fish and seafood. Sparkling wines are an ideal choice for dressed salads, the acidity and slight sweetness matching the dressing as well as the sweetness of the salad and vegetable ingredients. The natural sweetness of vegetable dishes often also fits well with the sweet edge of sparkling wines.

The Bubbles: basics about Sparkling Portuguese Wine Production

There are several styles of sparkling wine that the Portuguese wineries are considering prior to making plans to incorporate a sparkling product into their wine portfolio. To obtain a quality product, varietal selection and winery resources (i.e., funds, equipment, personnel, time availability) are considered before undergoing production.

A variety of these production methods can also be applied in ciders when producing various hard cider products. Although the specifications for apple selection would vary, production of the product would be quite similar.

Viticulture and Variety Selection for Sparkling Wine

While an older resource, Ough’s “Winemaking Basics” (1992) book outlines the basic requirements in grapes destined for sparkling wine production, grapes should be picked at 8.0 g/L tartaric acid (or higher) and at 18 – 21°Brix, with a final alcoholic concentration goal of up to 11.0% if the wine was to be fermented dry (Ough 1992).

Jones et al. (2014) details these harvesting details further indicating that a low pH, high titratable acidity (TA), and “lower” sugar concentration is ideal for sparkling wine production. Typical harvest parameters in Champagne, the world’s leading sparkling wine producing-region, include: an estimated final alcohol (v/v) of 9% based on starting sugar concentration, 12.0 g/L tartaric acid, and a pH of 2.9, but parameters vary and are determined annually, dependent on the growing season. Unlike many New World winegrowing regions, Champagne and Cava have viticultural regulations dictating grape growing practices and harvest parameters. Other sparkling wine producing regions may mimic these parameters in terms of optimizing quality in their sparkling wine products.

The specialists have detailed harvest parameters for grapes destined for sparkling wine production, although optimal ranges can vary from region-to-region and variety-to-variety: 16.0 – 20.0°Brix, 10.0 – 16.0 g/L tartaric acid, and a pH of 2.90 – 3.20.

Traditional varieties used for Champagne production include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier; each variety may be made into a varietal Champagne or blended to produce a particular house style. For Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine made using the traditional method (see below), the primary varieties used for production are: Macabea (Viura), Parellada, and Xarel.

When a “white” or “rosé” hued sparkling wine is desired, red [grape] varieties should be pressed quickly, with minimal skin contact (Ough 1992), and although full-cluster pressing is often preferred, if the grapes are in good condition, crushing followed by pressing should be utili zed for efficiency (Ough 1992, Zoecklein 2002). The “pink” color may also be added in the final stages of production by adding a small concentration of red still wine in the dosage.

However, the evaluation of alternative varieties has been studied (Martínez-Lapuente et al. 2013) and utilized in industry. Germany, for example, produces several sparkling wines using varieties such as Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Italian sparkling wines range from Muscat (Moscato) to Lambrusco and Acqui (Brachetto d’Acqui), with the latter two varieties being of a deep red color. Red-hued sparkling Shiraz wines are also popular in Australia. While the opportunities and variability of sparkling wine is endless, each variety presents its own sets of challenges in terms of production and quality.

Methods of Production