Vintage

Sparkling wine, champagne included, is simply still wine that has been animated with carbon dioxide bubbles. Wine is made through an interaction of yeast and sugar; the former "eats" the latter, converting it into two substances: alcohol and CO2. In most winemaking the carbon dioxide evaporates into the atmosphere. In champagne and other "champagne method" or bottle-fermented sparkling wines, the gas is caught and permeates the wine. Carbonation may also be added through various bulk processes, but wines produced in these manners are always inferior. Champagne is made in a delineated region of eastern France from almost entirely from three grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier, used either individually or in blends. There are other sparkling wines made in France and in most other wine-producing countries. Cava, the champagne-method sparkling wine of Spain, has become increasingly popular, and there are many good examples from California (many of them produced by French champagne or Spanish cava companies). Sparkling wine of good quality is also made in Oregon, Washington, Australia, Italy, Spain, South America, South Africa, and many other wine regions. The best wines of England's fledgling modern wine industry are sparkling, made with the champagne method. Labeling laws vary from region to region, but in general (and certainly for champagne), vintage-dated sparkling wines must be made 100 percent from grapes harvested in the indicated year.