Wine is not typically considered a summer beverage. However, who could resist a cold glass of bubbly on a hot June, July, or August day? Sparkling wines are typically light and crisp—perfect for summer. They also mix well with summer-flavored liqueurs—think peach, berry, or mint—for a sparkling cocktail that’s easy to make and elegant to serve.
Champagne and other sparkling wines are often associated with special occasions. However, Peter Rutledge of Norwich Wines and Spirits
once told me that people in other countries enjoy them any time. He said, “A lot of people, for some reason, think they don’t like champagne. That’s probably because people don’t normally drink champagne except for celebrations. I drink it all the time.”
While many people use the term “champagne” to mean any sparkling beverage, there is a difference between champagne and sparkling wine. The term champagne signifies a specific type of French sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region. It is created using the méthode champenoise, a very labor-intensive process that may account for champagne being pricier than sparkling wine.
The méthode champenoise process begins with the grapes being pressed and fermented. Then a second fermentation takes place after the wine is bottled with yeast and a bit of sugar. This is when the yeast emits carbon dioxide to create the bubbles. The final two steps are “riddling” (when each bottle is stored nose-down and rotated each day to allow the dead yeast and sediment to collect in the bottle’s mouth) and “disgorging” (when the sediment is released from the bottle, either by hand or by freezing the sediment in the neck and then removing the frozen plug).
Sparkling wines get their bubbles in one of three ways: the transfer process, where the wine is bottled for its second fermentation, then filtered and placed in another bottle for sale; the Charmat process, where the second fermentation takes place in a large tank; or the least-expensive method, where carbonation is injected into the bottle.
Sparkling wines come from many regions of the world. California makes a number of sparkling wines, plus there are the well-known Prosecco wines from Italy and Cavas from Spain. Some US producers label their sparkling wines as champagne because they’re made using the same process as their European counterparts.
Champagnes and sparkling wines can be chilled and enjoyed just as they are. However, you can also mix them into these bubbly cocktails for a sparkling summer cocktail.
1 oz peach liqueur
3 oz chilled sparkling wine
Pour the peach liqueur into a champagne flute and top with your preferred sparkling wine and serve.
Sorbet and Champagne Cocktail
1 tsp of your favorite fruit sorbet
Chilled sparkling wine
Spoon the sorbet into a champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne or sparkling wine. Stir and serve.
Classic French 75
2 oz Gin
½ oz fresh lemon juice
1 sugar cube
Long, thin lemon peel
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin, lemon juice, and sugar cube. Shake to chill. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and top off with champagne. Garnish with lemon peel and serve.