Beyond Champagne: the 10 Most Famous Sparkling Wines You Should Try

Mariyam Seguías
Published in
5 min readJan 25, 2021



All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Oh, my! What is the difference then? The easy and short explanation is that you can only call a sparkling wine “Champagne” if it actually comes from the region of Champagne, France, which means they often come with a heftier price tag.

The good news is that the world has a variety of fantastic bubbles, like Prosecco and Cava, just to name a few, that offer inexpensive alternatives without sacrificing quality.

It is not about choosing a modest Champagne substitute. It is about having the freedom to try and enjoy other styles — more fruit character, less of the yeasty flavor, for example — and to choose the right wine for the right occasion.

Sparkling wines can be enjoyed with many meals and on many occasions, not just on anniversaries, birthdays or New Year’s Eve. So we want you to discover some of the best bubbly alternatives available on the market that will refresh your body and soul. They vary in taste, winemaking styles, and regional practices.

Ready to uncork your wine knowledge? Here is a quick breakdown of the top 10 sparkling wines.

1. Champagne

  • Region. Champagne is a French sparkling wine from the northeastern region of Champagne, France.
  • Grape. The main three grapes used are chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. This is the gold standard of sparkling wine.
  • Method. It is produced following the Méthode Champenoise (called the traditional method outside the champagne region). Champagne is required to age for a minimum of 15 months.

Wondering what the traditional method is? Discover all the methods to make sparkling wine in our next article. Follow us on medium to learn about this and more topics on sparkling wines.

Champagne features very high bottle pressure, resulting in tight, fine bubbles. The taste has an underlying fruitiness with crisp apple, and melon characteristics.

2. Crémant

  • Region. Cremant is a sparkling wine that does not come from Champagne but still follows the same method. It is made in eight different appellations in France and also in Belgium and Luxembourg.
  • Grape. In each region, they use different grapes. For example, Crémant de Loire often uses chenin blanc or cabernet franc; Crémant d’Alsace might use pinot gris or pinot blanc.
  • Method. Cremant production follows the traditional method and is required to age for a minimum of 9 months.

It gets close to the quality of Champagne at a fraction of the price. The large variety of approved grapes produce unique expressions of Crémant but, at the same time, this makes it difficult to pin down a regional identity.

3. Cava

  • Region. Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine produced in northern Spain. Most Cava comes from the Penedès region near Barcelona.
  • Grape. The main white grapes are macabeo, parellada, and xarel-lo. The main red grapes are garnacha tinta, pinot noir, monastrell, and trepat.
  • Method. Like Champagne, Cava production follows the traditional method. It is required to age for a minimum of 9 months.

Cava’s taste is highlighted by citrus notes with orchard fruit aromas. It features a set of bread-y and nutty savory aromas as well. Its bubbles are fine and contribute to a creamy mouth feel.

4. Franciacorta

  • Region. Franciacorta is one of the finest Italian sparkling wine and is from the Lombardy region.
  • Grapes. It is produced with a typical blend of chardonnay, pinot blanc, and pinot noir.
  • Method. Just like Champagne and Cava, it is made using the traditional method. It should complete at least 18 months of ageing on the lees.

It is a delicate wine with subtle notes of white fruits, flowers, and peaches. Apart from the standard white version, there are also Franciacorta Satèn — made exclusively with chardonnay and pinot blanc grapes — and Franciacorta Rosé made with a base of at least 25% pinot noir.

5. Alta Langa

  • Region. Alta Langa was the first classic method sparkling wine to be made in Italy, in the Piedmont region.
  • Grape. It is made with pinot noir and chardonnay, either 100% or in variable percentages.
  • Method. It follows the traditional method and ages on lees for at least 30 months (mamma mia!!!).

It can be white or rosé, brut or pas dosé. Alta Langa white features nuances ranging from pale straw yellow to deep gold, and aromas reminiscent of the grapes of origin and citrus fruit, accompanied by scents of crusty bread.

6. Trentodoc

  • Region. Well, Italians love bubbles, and Trentodoc is another good example of Italian sparkling wine. It is made in Trentino in northeastern Italy.
  • Grape. Only chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier with pinot blanc are permitted.
  • Method. Made following the traditional method, Trentodoc wines labeled brut must undergo a minimum of 15 months of aging.

Being a mountain wine, the altitude imparts elegance and freshness and helps develop intense aromas. Trentodoc could be even more crisp and immediate than Champagne or even Franciacorta.

7. Prosecco

  • Region. Prosecco is Italy’s most popular sparkler and is made in the Valdobbiadene region in Veneto, Italy.
  • Grape. Made from the prosecco grape (also called glera).
  • Method. It follows the Charmat method (also called the tank method), a less expensive way of sparkling wine.

Prosecco comes in three levels of perlage, the bubbliest spumante (sparkling), followed by frizzante (semi-sparkling), and tranquillo (still). The flavors of Prosecco tend to be simpler and less complex. It evokes white flowers, apple, and pear. It is an easy-drinking option.

8. Moscato d’Asti

  • Region. Moscato is a sweet sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy.
  • Grape. It is made from moscato grapes.
  • Method. Moscato d’Asti is tank-fermented but is different from Prosecco because it is fermented only once.

It has intense floral and fruity flavors of peach, rose, and grape. It is usually sweet and has a low level of alcohol.

9. Lambrusco

  • Region. Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine and has four protected DOC regions in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy and one just north in the Lombardy region.
  • Grape. Lambrusco grapes.
  • Method. Lambrusco gets its bubbles in one of these three ways: Charmat method, traditional method, or ancestral method.

Lambrusco is fruit-forward, with flavors of berries and some floral notes depending on the variety.

10. Sekt

  • Region. Sekt is sparkling wine from Germany and Austria. We have seen different regions and methods that characterized sparkling wines. Now, Sekt is more flexible than the other regions.
  • Grape. Sekt is not a protected term. The producers are allowed to import grapes, juice, or wine to produce Sekt.
  • Method. Most of these Sekt wines are produced using the tank (Charmat) method, like Prosecco. But some others like the Austrian Sekt “Reserve” use the traditional method.

Germany and Austria make many outstanding Sekt wines, they just don’t have official regulations that are quite as rigorous. The good news is that some recent changes in wine governance show great promise for exceptional quality Sekt.

Bubbles from everywhere else

Most international wine regions produce their own delightful renditions of sparkling wine. Some other good examples of sparkling-producing places include the US, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, and even England.

Now that you discovered the variety of delicious sparkling wines that exist beyond Champagne, what’s next for you to pop?

Uncork your knowledge and join our community of wine lovers🍷




Mariyam Seguías

Content creator | Wine lover | VP of Zurich Wine Festival | Founder of Zurich Wine Club