Category Archives: Sparkling Wines

The Best Franciacorta Wines | Italy Gets Serious About Sparkling

The Best Franciacorta Wines | Italy Gets Serious About Sparkling Wine

Franciacorta Wine

When you’re deciding which sparkling wine to purchase, it’s not uncommon to consider the gold standards of Champagne or the similarly reliable, yet significantly more affable Prosecco options from Italy’s Veneto region. Many savor the former, while the latter is often relegated to mimosa duty. But look a little harder and you’ll not only discover Italy’s best kept secret, but one of the best-kept secrets in the world of wine: Franciacorta.

What this relatively young yet fiercely dynamic wine region lacks in sheer size and history it more than makes up for in quality, consistently producing distinctive sparkling wines that rival the quality of those in Champagne, yet are produced in their own unique style. Consider the fact that they’re often less expensive than their expertly-branded French counterparts an added bonus.

Franciacorta is the only region in Italy where all of the wines are made in the costly and significantly more time consuming Méthode Traditionelle, whereby the wines undergo their secondary fermentation and aging in bottle, resulting in more complex, finessed sparklers.

If you’re wondering why you might not be familiar with Franciacorta’s wines, the numbers offer an explanation. Champagne boasts a towering production of roughly 300 million bottles per year from 75,000 vineyard acres, while Franciacorta spans merely 10% of that size, measuring just 7,800 acres. With demand for bottle production being so high, manufacturers may want to make sure they have effective printing technology for the labeling process of the products. See here for more information on this –

Champagne has also been in the business since as early as the 17th century, while Franciacorta has only been producing wine since 1961. But such a stark contrast highlights what might just be most impressive about this little region in Northern Italy: how far and how quickly it has come in barely 50 years.

Franciacorta Wine

Understanding Franciacorta | An Area, Production Method and a Wine

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Sara Bee Moscato | Sweet Wine at a Sweet Price?

Sara Bee Moscato | Kosher Moscato Wine – Trader Joe’s Wine

Sara Bee Moscato

I have received quite a few e-mails for Kosher wine recommendations lately, so I will make an effort to include a few more Kosher wine reviews when possible. Taking into consideration the surging popularity of Moscato wine at the moment, I thought it might make sense to try out an affordable Kosher Moscato wine option. Meeting both requirements is the Sara Bee Moscato, economically priced at just under $6 in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section.

At 5.5% ABV, I fully expect that the Sara Bee Moscato will fall on the sweeter side of the spectrum (during fermentation, yeasts convert alcohol to sugar, so a higher alcohol rating translates to lower sugar levels). While sweet wines aren’t exactly my cup of tea, my goal is to help readers determine if this is indeed a Moscato Kosher wine bargain or one to avoid altogether.

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Moscato Wine | Putting Popular Moscato Wines To The Test

Guide to Moscato Wine | Testing Popular Moscato Wines

Moscato Wine

Is it just me, or have Moscato wines become all the rage lately? I don’t know whether to attribute this sudden resurgence in Moscato’s popularity to all of the recent hip-hop shout-outs or simply because consumers have rediscovered what makes Moscato wine so likable in the first place. Some are even calling Moscato wine the new “rapper’s delight” – though it’s more likely a confluence of both factors.

Luckily, unlike the purely aspirational nature of previously coveted rapper libations, Moscato’s refreshingly low-alcohol, aromatic and slightly-sweet personality is exponentially more attainable!

What Kind of Wine is Moscato? | Moscato Wine

Moscato is produced from the Muscat Blanc grape resulting in an intensely aromatic, typically semi-sweet white wine that ranges from being still or slightly effervescent to completely sparkling, otherwise referred to as Spumante. Spumante literally means an Italian sparkling white wine.

Moscato owes it’s aromatic intensity to its high concentration of monoterpenes enzymes – some of which are actually known for their natural antibacterial behavior and can also be found in aromatic herbs and spices such as mint and cinnamon. Moscato shares this interesting trait with other highly aromatic varietals such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

What Does Moscato Wine Taste Like? | Moscato Wine

Generally speaking, you can expect a vivid, floral aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom along with flavors of fresh peaches, apricots, apples, citrus and ginger. Moscato wine owes a good deal of its popularity to its exotic and expressive bouquet.

They are usually semi-sweet with enough acidity to avoid becoming heavy. Many Moscato wines have a unique “Muskiness” that is characteristic to Moscato wine.

Moscato wines tend to pack a lot of flavor in an approachable, low-alcohol package. They are phenomenal wines for novice wine drinkers and for sipping on hot, summer days.

Moscato Wine

Where is Moscato Wine From? | Moscato Wine

Being arguably the oldest vinified grape variety in the world has led to Moscato getting around a bit – Moscato wines can be found thriving in many wine-producing regions of the world.

But the Moscato name hails from Italy – as do the famous Moscato d’Asti wines produced in Italy’s Northwestern Piedmont region.

Asti is actually a province within Piedmont with approximately 75,000 inhabitants. Any wine labeled Moscato d’Asti must be produced from grapes sourced within this region.

Moscato Vs. Moscato d’Asti | What’s the difference?

While the different but names may be confusing, the differences between these Moscato wines is actually quite simple.

Moscato d’Asti is most often produced in the frizzante style so it is slightly sparkling, and must come from the Italian province of Asti. Moscato d’Asti is the most famous type of Moscato.

A wine that is simply labeled Moscato is a white wine that can be produced all over the world and will most commonly be slightly effervescent, though is sometimes produced in a dry style.

How Can I Tell How Sweet A Moscato Will Be? | Moscato Wine

Looking for just a hint of sweetness? A great way to identify which Moscato wines will be right for you is to look at the alcohol by volume (ABV), which will be shown as a percentage. The higher the alcohol content, the less sweet that particular Moscato wine is going to be. Conversely, if you want a sweet Moscato wine, look for a low-alcohol one.

As a general rule when trying to determine how sweet a Moscato wine is:

  1. When alcohol is from 5% to 8%, it will be more sweet.
  2. When alcohol ranges from 9% to 12% it will be less sweet.
  3. So using this logic, a 5% ABV Moscato should be very sweet while a 12% ABV Moscato should be far more dry.

What Should I Pair With Moscato? | Moscato Wine

Due to sweetness of many Moscato wines they make terrific accompaniments to spicy cuisines and desserts (think thai food or peach cobbler). But their exuberant, low-alcohol personalities makes them popular aperitifs as well.

Moscato Wine

Which Moscato Wine Should I Buy? | Putting Popular Moscato Wines To The Test

Luckily, due to the recent surge of Moscato’s popularity it is becoming easier to find in local stores. It’s an added bonus that like its approachable personality, most Moscato wines are similarly priced and easy on your wallet.

The following Moscato wines are popular, well-distributed examples so they should be as easy to hunt down as they are inexpensive to enjoy. They are ranked in order from least to most expensive.

Moscato Wine

Blue Fin Moscato 2013

Price: $4.49

Where I Got It: The Trader Joe’s Wine Section

Alcohol By Volume: 10%

Sweetness Level: Medium

Level of Effervescence: Slightly Sparkling

Flavor Profile: An aromatic and perfumed nose leads to rich notes of honeysuckle, apricot and honeydew melon along with hints of orange zest. This exudes a vibrant personality with enough acidity and subtle effervescence to keep this semi-sweet wine from becoming heavy or cloying.

Origin: California

Value: 5 / 5

Should You Buy? Exuberant aromatics, the best price and a level of sweetness that isn’t overwhelming? The Blue Fin Moscato is a solid option and an excellent value at under $5.

Moscato Wine

Barefoot Moscato (Non-Vintage)

Price: $4.77

Where I Got It: Total Wine

Alcohol By Volume: 9%

Sweetness Level: Wow this is sweet!

Level of Effervescence: Slightly Sparkling

Flavor Profile: Only slightly more aromatic than the Alice White Moscato, the Barefoot Moscato reveals predominantly elderflower, honey, pear and lime notes with a thick, viscously sweet mouthfeel that’s lifted by subtle effervescence.

Origin: California

Value: 4 / 5

Should You Buy? If you’re looking for a very sweet, inexpensive Moscato, then Barefoot Moscato is the wine for you.

Moscato Wine

Alice White Lexia Moscato (Non-Vintage)

Price: 6.99

Where I Got It: The Trader Joe’s Wine Section

Alcohol By Volume: 10%

Sweetness Level: Very Sweet

Level of Effervescence: Still

Flavor Profile: A subtle, understated nose with faint suggestions of honey and lime leads to a very rich, sweet mouthfeel that’s dominated by honey notes along with hints of lime citrus and kiwi.

Origin: South Eastern Australia

Value: 2.5 / 5

Should You Buy? If you’re looking for a very sweet, simple Moscato without any effervescence then this is an okay option, otherwise it was not impressive.

Moscato Wine

Bartenura Moscato 2014

Price: $10.99

Where I Got It: The Costco Wine Section

Alcohol By Volume: 5%

Sweetness Level: Very sweet

Level of Effervescence: Slightly sparkling

Flavor Profile: The nose is clean and reveals white flowers and lime along with hints of peach. The mouthfeel is extremely sweet but the refreshing acidity keeps the Bartenura Moscato from becoming as heavy as the Barefoot Moscato.

Origin: Italy

Value: 3 / 5

Should You Buy? The Bartenura Moscato offers decent complexity but is only for those who like their Moscato very sweet. It is a nice option for those looking for a Kosher Moscato.

Moscato Wine
Donnafugata Lighea Zibbibo 2014 (Muscat of Alexandria)

Price: $23 Retail, though available from $16.49 to $19.99 according to wine-searcher.

Where I Got It: Sample

Alcohol By Volume: 12.5%

Sweetness Level: Completely Dry

Level of Effervescence: Still

Flavor Profile: A vibrant, perfumed nose reveals notes of flowers, lychee, apple, melon and pear enveloped in a honeyed richness. In the mouth, those notes carry though but become more subdued than the nose might suggest and are grounded by stony minerality and zesty acidity – something completely lacking in the other Moscato wines tasted today. It finishes nicely with lingering hints of ginger spice.

Origin: Sicily, Italy

Value: 4 / 5

Should You Buy? Those seeking the alluring aromatic qualities of Moscato in a refreshingly dry package will find this more sophisticated offering from Donnafugata to be an excellent option. While the most expensive of the wines tasted today, it is well worth the money and is the Moscato you would find in my glass.

Best Champagne for Mimosas | The Perfect Ingredient

Best Champagne for Mimosas | The Perfect Ingredient

Best Champagne for Mimosas

Just this past weekend I was enjoying a mimosa (okay, several mimosas) with my family at brunch when someone observed that the inexpensive sparkling wine the restaurant was using still made a pretty tasty mimosa. Then the thought occurred to me that this was likely a dilemma for many mimosa lovers: What exactly is the Best Champagne for Mimosas?

The Best Champagne for Mimosas Isn’t Actually Champagne!

If you’ve ever asked yourself what the Best Champagne for Mimosas was then I have good news for you… It isn’t actually Champagne! Many people make the common mistake of using real Champagne to make their mimosas but you needn’t spend all of that money to enjoy a perfectly good mimosa.

In the mood for a low-calorie, simple sangria? Check out my Simple Sangria Recipe and discover which wines are best to make sangria with.

The reality is that when you mix Champagne with orange juice, you’re not going to be able to taste the nuances or refined characteristics of the Champagne anyway. So unless you’re very well off and don’t mind spending a fortune on Champagne, I have the perfect ingredient and it’s considerably more affordable.

The Perfect Ingredient

The Best Champagne for Mimosas is actually Cava! Cava is a sparkling wine from the Catalonia region of Spain that is made in the same labor-intensive traditional method whereby the wine undergoes it’s secondary fermentation in the bottle to create it’s bubbles naturally, unlike the cheaper method where wines are made and then pumped with CO2. Spanish Cava is often moderately complex, dry, quite tasty and incredibly affordable.

How to Make The Perfect Mimosa | My Simple Mimosa Recipe!

When making a mimosa, you want to use a sparkling wine that is dry and with strong effervescence to balance the sweetness and the lack of carbonation in the orange juice. This will yield a perfectly balanced mimosa that’s softly sparkling and not overly sweet.

  1. It’s simple! All you need is orange juice and dry sparkling wine to make the perfect mimosa.
  2. For best results: Use a dry, inexpensive sparkling wine such as Cava along with fresh squeezed orange juice.
  3. In a Champagne flute, slowly fill one-half of the glass with sparkling wine. While pouring make sure to tilt the glass in order to preserve it’s effervescence.
    1. (Tip) The opposite is appropriate when serving simply Champagne or sparkling wine. You want to pour straight into the glass slowly to allow some of the bubbles to dissipate and allow the wine to open up. Think of sipping Pellegrino versus Club Soda, the Pellegrino is far more subtle and pleasant to sip!)
  4. Then top off with orange juice.
    1. (Tip) The ideal mimosa should be equal parts sparkling wine and orange juice. If you prefer yours a little sweeter, use less sparkling wine and vice-versa.
  5. Enjoy and repeat!

Which Cava Should You Buy To Make the Perfect Mimosa? – My Top 3 Picks!

Mimosas are one of my favorite Champagne cocktails and they are incredibly simple to make, and they don’t have to be expensive to make either. Remember that the best champagne for mimosas is Cava. Here are my two favorite options:

Best ChampagneJaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava – Widely available under $10, this bargain sparkler is an incredible value. It’s dry, rich and moderately complex with good effervescence. You’d probably love sipping it alone, but at this price you don’t have to feel guilty about mixing it with orange juice! It’s my pick as the best champagne to make mimosas. Click for my review and where to buy!

Best Champagne for Mimosas

La Granja 360 Brut Cava – At under $7 this Spanish Cava is one of the finest sparkling wine values I’ve discovered. It easily tastes like it costs twice as much as it actually does. Find the La Granja Cava in your local Trader Joe’s Wine Section.

Best Champagne for Mimosas

Rondel Brut Cava – Like the Jaume Serra Cristalino and La Granja 360 Cava’s, this is another great option that’s widely available under $10.

Enjoy your Mimosas and Please Share This Post If You Found It Helpful!

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut | Not Cheap, But Inexpensive

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava | Trader Joe’s Wine

Jaume Serra Cristalino

The Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava has become a perennial favorite amongst those looking for a nice bargain bubbly. Is it’s success due to the clean and elegant label? Or possibly because the catchy name sounds an awful lot like the awfully expensive Cristal Champagne?

Or is it fittingly because the Jaume Serra Cristalino is simple a great sparkling wine for the money? I spotted the Cristalino Brut while browsing my local Trader Joe’s Wine Section and decided to answer those questions for myself. I mean it can’t be all that bad if Wine & Spirits Magazine has rather impressively named the Jaume Serra Cristalino the ‘Value Brand of the Year’ for three consecutive years!

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Korbel Champagne | A Controversial California Champagne

Korbel Champagne | A Controversial California Champagne | Trader Joe’s Wine

Korbel Champagne

Made famous by it’s controversial yet wildly successful Korbel Champagne, the Korbel Winery in California’s Russian River Valley was founded in 1882 by the Czechoslovakian Korbel brothers: Francis, Joseph and Anton.

The producers of Korbel Champagne sold their winery in 1954 to Adolph Heck and then in 1974 Adolph’s son Gary took over the winery. While in charge at Korbel, Gary succeeded in increasing production of the now ubiquitous Korbel Champagne from an already healthy 150,000 cases per year to today’s impressive level of 1.3 million cases per year.

Today, by volume, Korbel Champagne is the most popular sparkling wine produced in the United States using the traditional ‘méthode champenoise’ method. The incredible success and popularly of Korbel Champagne surely only adds to the frustration of the French officials and Champagne producers in Champagne, France. What’s the rub? Korbel has insisted on marketing themselves as Champagne when in actuality it is merely a California sparkling wine.

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Louise d’ Estree Brut Review | Trader Joe’s Wine

Louise d’ Estree Brut Review | Trader Joe’s Wine

Louise d' Estree Brut

So I’m back in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section looking for another solid sparkling wine bargain after having some success with the La Granja 360 Cava I discovered a few weeks ago. For only $1 more I spotted the rather regal-looking Louise d’ Estree Brut and wondered if it might be another great Trader Joe’s Wine discovery.

The Louise d’ Estree is not Champagne but rather a French sparkling wine. I’ve has some pretty tasty French sparklers from outside of the far pricier Champagne region before so I thought I’d investigate whether the Louise d’ Estree is as royally good as it’s label seems to suggest!

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La Granja 360 Cava Brut Review | Trader Joe’s Wine

La Granja 360 Cava Brut | Trader Joe’s Wine

La Granja 360 Cava Brut | La Granja Wine

I’m always looking for excellent sparkling wines that can be enjoyed without ceremony. Today I wanted to investigate another popular pick in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section: La Granja 360 Cava Brut by La Granja Wines. At under $7 it is a full $2 less expensive than the Rondel Cava Brut that has become so popular both at Total Wine as well as here on The Fermented Fruit.

I have to admit that I am always somewhat skeptical of sparkling wines under $10, and especially so of those with animals on the label. In the case of the La Granja 360 Cava Brut a duck adorns the label. Since La Granja is Spanish for “The Farm”, I guess this is somewhat appropriate. But this particular duck appears to be pretty shaken up so let’s hope my palate isn’t similarly shaken up after tasting the La Granja Cava Brut!

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Champagne Delamotte | Salon Quality | Affordable Price

Champagne Delamotte Brut Review | Salon Quality at an Affordable Price

Champagne Delamotte

If you’re anything like me, when you start to hear Christmas music,  your inner child gets excited while the grown-up part of you gets instantly stressed with everything the holiday season entails. Not the least of which entails finding elegant, well-crafted Champagne that will impress without also depressing you due to it’s price. But fortunately I may be able to help in at least this one critical area. In terms of sheer bang for the buck, the Costco Kirkland Signature Champagne I recently reviewed is an excellent option but sometimes you want something a little more special and prestigious to celebrate with. Today The Fermented Fruit is actually celebrating a small milestone itself (more on that later). These special occasions call for the Champagne Delamotte Brut.

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Costco Champagne | Kirkland Signature Brut Review

Costco Champagne | Kirkland Signature Brut Review

Costco Champagne

If this is you’re very first visit to The Fermented Fruit then welcome and thanks for visiting! I hope you come back and visit often. If you’re one of my totally incredible regular readers though, then you probably know just how much I love sparkling wine, especially Champagne!

Despite my profound love of Champagne, I can’t bring myself to regularly spend upwards of $40 on a bottle of bubbly; hence why I drink wines like the La Marca Prosecco, Lunetta Prosecco and Roederer Estate Brut more often. But sometimes you just want to drink real Champagne so today we’re tasting an affordable option that blends both my love of Costco and Champagne: The Kirkland Signature Brut, otherwise known as Costco Champagne!

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