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United States Sparkling Wine

Where:  While most sparkling wine from the United States comes from California, many other states--both on the West and the East Coast--produce it as well:  Oregon, Washington, New York, Virginia, New Mexico, et al.  Given the diversity of locations, these wines are grown in a number of different climates.  Most though are located in places that are relatively cool.  As a result, itís not unusual to find such wineries near the coast and/or at high altitudes.  

Grapes:  There arenít any regulations regarding what grapes must be used in the production of sparkling wines in the United States.  That said, the vast majority of the wines contain the same grapes that are used in the production of Champagne:  Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier.  

Taste:  Itís difficult to generalize the taste of all sparkling wines from the United States given they are produced in many different areas of the country.  On a whole, there are some similarities to the wines from Champagne, France--especially since the wines tend to be made from the same grapes.  However, most of the wines are grown in a warmer climate with more sunshine than the wines from Champagne.  As a result, the wines tend to have many of the same flavors as Champagne such as yeast, pear, and apple, but also exhibit richer flavors like lemon, grapefruit, and pineapple.  Taste varies greatly from wine to wine though.

Food Pairing:  The ideal food pairing varies wine to wine, but a typical sparkling wine from the United States, which has a somewhat fuller body than sparkling wines from Europe, will go well with fried appetizers such as calamari or dumplings and Chinese and Thai cuisine.  

Ageability:  Most wines are meant for immediate consumption.  However, a few producers make sparkling wines that can age and develop for 5-40 years depending on the vintage.

Method of Production:  Sparkling wine production methods vary from producer to producer.  Many of the wines are made with the traditional (Method Champenoise) method used to make Champagne and Cava where the wines undergo secondary fermentation in the bottle.  Others are made using the less expensive Charmat method where the wine is put into a tank where secondary fermentation takes place.  The cheapest wines though are made by injecting carbon dioxide into the wine, similar to the production of soda.
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