Behind the Bar: Sparkling Wines Edition

brown banner - sparking wine
This is Linz, bringing you champagne wishes and cava dreams.

Not all sparkling wines are created equal. Literally. Champagne is “champagne” not only because of the region it’s produced in, but also because of the grape types and production method. (The whole issue of food designations is actually really interesting, I found “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” to be a great jumping-off point that moved the conversation past champagne.) 

But I digress.

Just because a sparkling wine isn’t schamps does NOT mean it should be ignored. You might even prefer some of these pairings instead of the French fave. This is also by no means a detailed list of sparkling wines, just highlighting the big hitters.


A la francaise

    • The gold standard
    • French, fancy, often stupid expensive because of its production method
    • Most are gonna be on the dry side, maybe light citrus, or apple, or almond notes. I like a brioche-y one myself.
    • When you feeling like a baller bitch
  • PAIRING WITH: well obviously books involving decadence and wealth, or heavy on description
    • The Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwon
    • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
    • The Assistants by Camille Perri

*****If anyone says Great Gatsby I will defenestrate you, that book doesn’t celebrate decadence and wealth*****

    • Like basically the same thing as schamps but the grapes aren’t from Champagne
    • Can also come in rose form, since the grape use isn’t as restrictive
    • Less bubbly, more creamy texture
  • PAIRING WITH: Books that are a little less…traditional
    • Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen
    • You by Caroline Kepnes
    • I Hunt Serial Killers trilogy by Barry Lyga

On an evening in Roma

    • Italiano
    • Fancy but affordable because of how it’s made
    • Taste profile runs a little sweeter than schamps (which is why I favor schamps), but a good one isn’t too sweet
  • PAIRING WITH: A solidly enjoyable read with just a touch of sweetness
    • The Cormoran Strike series by “Robert Galbraith”
    • Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger

    • Also Italiano
    • I’ve seen this as just spumante, so *shrug*
    • Made with Moscato grapes, so, SWEET
  • PAIRING WITH: twee love stories
    • Also Italiano, red edition
    • Most are on the lower end of the sweetness scale
    • I feel like I’ve seen this paired with pizza. Maybe I’m the one who tried to pair it with pizza…
  • PAIRING WITH: Reds for me always mean a little sex, a little drama, or a little murder


El vino did flow

  • CAVA
    • Kind of like champagne but with Spanish grapes
    • Also comes in rose
    • Dry to supersweet
    • Is also a fast-casual chain that does not only not serve cava, they serve no alcohol, and that was wildly disappointing. (Cava Mezze, a DC chain, DOES serve alcohol, adding to the confusion. Have not ordered cava there.)
    • Freixenet was my best friend in my 20s
  • PAIRING WITH: My 20s were a wild time, so I’m gonna go with some coming-of-age tales


Probelms de champanhe

    • Literally means “green wine” and it is my best friend during the summer
    • The light carbonation was originally an accident
    • Allegedly there is red vinho verde but I won’t believe it til someone buys me some (Turns out joke’s on me, Trader Joe’s sells one)
    • Basically a white wine spritzer, premixed – light, super drinkable, drier side
  • PAIRING WITH: Fresh to death reads (fresh as in brand new, or simply a palette cleanser of a book)
    • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
    • The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
    • Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
    • Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Hello darkness, my old friend

    • You’ve probably drank one while it was taped to your hand
    • You’ve DEFINITELY had a hangover from all the sugar
    • Comes in all the flavors including “Cold Duck”
    • Don’t insult a book by doing this pairing
    • Also really trashy emo YA series I get for my kindle when I go to the beach


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