Sparkling Wine and Champagne Pairings: A Beginner’s Guide

Two glasses of sparkling wine with various dishes of food in the background

There’s something about the effervescence of sparkling wine that instantly adds cheer to a celebratory occasion, but it’s not just its bubbles that render the fizzy libation a favorite among wine drinkers.

The refined taste of sparkling wine varies in sweetness and dryness based on its geographic region and grape varietal, as well as a few other factors. Whether you’re planning a dinner party or dining out with friends, this guide will help ensure your bubbly pour suits both the occasion and your palette. Read on for champagne serving tips, seven easy champagne pairings, key sparkling wine regions, and how to find the right level of sweetness.

Sparkling Wine vs. Champagne

Glass of champagne with a charcuterie boardFirst, let’s start with the basics: Is sparkling wine the same as champagne? Sparkling wine is a carbonated wine that generally assumes the name of the region from which it originated. For example, Champagne is named after the eponymous region of France, and all bottles must be from that region to bear the name.

How is Champagne Made?

The bubbles in champagne and sparkling wine occur through one of three methods:

  1. The grapes ferment in a tank and then again in individual bottles for at least fifteen months. The secondary fermentation creates carbonation.
  2. Carbonation can be added in, like soda.
  3. The final method, called the Charmat method, requires transferring wine from the first fermentation tank to a second sealed, pressurized tank, which is more cost-effective and allows you to pick up a bottle for a lower price tag than most champagnes.

The latter method results in younger, fruitier wine than the traditional Champagne method.

How to Serve Champagne

With the perfect bottle selected, all that’s left is serving your guests. Keep in mind that different glassware can affect the taste of champagne, depending on whether it’s served in a coupe or a flute glass. How many glasses are Additionally, when serving champagne, follow these best practices to ensure your sparkling wine is enjoyed at its peak.

  • Serve cold (between 46–50° F)
  • Fill flute glass ⅔ full
  • Hold glasses by the stem
  • Between servings, use a stopper to preserve carbonation
  • Note: an average bottle fills 6 flute glasses

Types of Sparkling Wines

In retail stores, sparkling wines are often classified by region. Below are just a few of some of the popular sparkling wines available (though there are many more):  

  • Cava: A Spanish sparkling wine
  • Champagne: Sparkling wine that hails from the Champagne region in France
  • Cremant: Sparkling wine made outside the Champagne region of France
  • Prosecco: Italian white wine
  • Sekt: Name for sparkling wines hailing from Germany or Austria

Learn more about the different types of Champagne and sparkling wine.

Champagne Pairings

So what food goes with champagne? Whether enjoying a glass of sparkling wine with charcuterie or seafood, there is an ideal sparkling wine to match different flavor notes.

Determining Level of Sweetness

Various designations are given in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany to indicate how much sugar is present. Typically, American wine makers follow the the French scale. Reference the chart below to learn more about the amount of sugar per liter. Generally, Brut is the most common level of sweetness, but it is recommended that you begin somewhere in the middle and determine your preference for slightly dry or sweet.

Additional Wine Terms to Know

  • Assemblage: Blend of grape varieties in base wine
  • Blanc de Blanc: Sparkling wine made only from white grapes
  • Blanc de Noirs: Sparkling wine made only from red grapes
  • Frizzante: Italian term for semi-sparkling wine

Looking for more? Explore sparkling wines available now on Invaluable.