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Sparkling wine

sparkling wine (GB)
vin mousseux (F)
spumante (I)

Above all in the German-speaking area usual designation for a sparkling wine produced according to certain quality criteria (quality sparkling wine). Sparkling wines produced outside of Champagne, even if they have been produced according to Champagne rules, may under no circumstances call themselves Champagne. This is not a question of quality, but of origin. Names used in other countries include Afrodis Oinos (Greece), Cava (Spain), Crémant (outside Champagne in France, but also other countries), Pezsgő (Hungary), Sparkling Wine (overseas) and Spumante (Italy). But the steps are very similar and described under Champagne. In contrast to champagne, the second fermentation of sparkling wine often takes place in steel tanks using the pressure tank method, the méthode charmat, named after its inventor. Here the wine is fermented in a pressure tank after the addition of sugar and yeast and also left on the yeast for a certain time. From there the finished sparkling wine is also filtered under pressure and then bottled. This procedure saves the time-consuming steps of remuage (shaking) and dégorgement (removal of yeast sediment).

Sekt - verschiedene Bezeichnungen von Cava bis Vonkelwyn

The second difference to champagne is the method of blending. A classic champagne is often (but not exclusively) a cuvée from different sites, vintages and mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A sparkling wine, on the other hand, is usually made from grapes from the same vineyard and the same vintage. In Germany, mainly Riesling is used for this purpose and in Austria the varieties Welschriesling, Grüner Veltliner and Chardonnay but also others. However, there are also many brands of sparkling wine that are produced according to the classical method, i.e. with bottle fermentation. In this case, depending on the country of production, the label shows the name "Méthode traditionelle" or "Méthode classique", which is common in France, Germany and Austria, and "Metodo tradizionale" or "Metodo classico" in Italy.

How the champagne got its name

The designation "Sekt" is not protected according to its origin, although Germany has been striving for decades to have the name permitted only in countries with a German national language. After long legal disputes, an EU decision in 1975 finally confirmed that this language restriction was discriminatory. Quality sparkling wine may thus be produced worldwide under the name Sekt. Until the middle of the 19th century, every sparkling wine was called champagne in many countries, regardless of its actual origin. The origin of the name sparkling wine lies in the Latin word "siccus", which means dry. The preferred wine in the Middle Ages in the southern regions was a sweet, heavy dessert wine. The term "secco" (Spanish "seco") finally became established as the name for tart wine.

Later on, all southern wines (especially the Spanish), whether sweet or tart, were called "Vino seco", in France they were simply called "le sec". England drew sherry from Spain and called it "Wyne seck", of which sack was left over and was a synonym for fortified Spanish wine. The sherry brand "Dry Sack" of the Williams & Humbert company still reminds us of this today. During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) the name "Seck" appeared and mutated to "Seckt", then to "Sect" and finally to "Sekt". But still, it was not a sparkling wine but simply Spanish wine in general.

Sekt - William Shakespeare, August Wilhelm Schlegel und Ludwig Devrient

In the royal dramas of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) the word "sack" is often used for sherry. The German Shakespeare translator August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845) incorrectly translated the term "sack", which appears in Henry IV, as "a good Spanish sparkling wine". In November 1825, the famous Shakespeare mime Ludwig Devrient (1784-1832), completely under the spell of his role as the slovenly drunken Falstaff in Henry IV, stormed into the (still existing) Berlin wine tavern "Lutter & Wegner" on Gendarmenmarkt after the performance and snorted at the waiter: Bring me some champagne, scoundrel! Is there no virtue left on earth? But the waiter knew that Devrient would drop a glass or two of champagne after each performance, so he didn't bring him a "Secco" (sherry), but just the sparkling drink. The strange order quickly got around and became fashionable. More and more people ordered champagne, but meant champagne.

However, the term has not been used in the technical literature for a long time and it was also not included in the famous German dictionary of the Brothers Grimm. As a general term for sparkling wine, sparkling wine then slowly established itself until the end of the 19th century and was officially recognised in 1894 by the founding of the "Verband deutscher Sektkellereien" (Association of German Sparkling Wine Cellars). In Meyer's Konversations-Lexikon, however, sparkling wine is only mentioned briefly in a subordinate clause in 1902. The term champagne was no longer allowed to be used after the First World War, and this was even included in the Treaty of Versailles concluded in 1919.

Wine Law Germany

According to the German Wine Law of 1971, only sparkling wines which achieve at least 12 out of 20 points in the sensory test, have at least 3.5 bar of carbon dioxide overpressure, have at least 10% alcohol content by volume and a maximum total sulphur content of 200 mg/l may be called sparkling wines. There are different designations.

Basic wines from different countries may be used in sparkling wine without an additional designation (i.e. also wines from outside Germany). Only products that have been produced from German base wines may be designated as German sparkling wine; these may also be blends of wines from different growing regions. A sparkling wine b. A. may only be made from wines that originate from the wine growing region indicated on the label.

The Winegrower's sparkling wine may be produced by those holdings which are regarded as producers within the meaning of the Wine Law. Such sparkling wines must be produced by the bottle fermentation process from base wines which are classified as quality wine b. A. quality wine. The special form Prädikatssekt had to consist of at least 60% German base wines; however, this designation was prohibited by the European Court of Justice in 1975. The Austrian counterpart to Winzersekt with similar production conditions is Sparkling wine.

Well-known sparkling wine brands or sparkling wine producers in Germany include Deinhard, Fürst von Metternich, Henkell, Kupferberg, MM (Matheus Müller), Rotkäppchen-Mumm, Rüdesheimer Sektkellerei Ohlig, Schlumberger Hartmut, Söhnlein and Wilhelmshof

Austrian wine law

Starting with the 2015 vintage, a three-level quality pyramid was introduced for Austrian sparkling wine. The designations are "Klassik" (in white, red and rosé, all sparkling fermentation methods, all styles and dosages, 9 months of yeast storage, max. alcohol content 12.5% vol, vintage allowed, grapes from a province), "Reserve" (in white and rosé, no blending of red and white base wine for the rosé, yield 60%, bottle fermentation, 18 months of yeast, max. 12 g/l residual sugar = brut nature, extra brut or brut, vintage permitted, grapes from one federal state) and "Große Reserve" (in white and rosé, no blending of red and white base wine for the rosé, manual harvest with max. pouring height 35 cm, yield 50%, bottle fermentation, 30 months yeast, max. 12 g/l residual sugar, grapes from only one wine-growing community, site designation permitted)

Sekt - deistufige Qualiätätspyramide (Klassik, Reserve, Große Reserve)

Well-known sparkling wine brands and producers in Austria include Inführ, Kattus and Schlumberger.

in-depth information

An often asked question is whether sparkling wines such as sparkling wine or champagne can be kept or are suitable for long storage and mature and develop in the same way as a high-quality still wine. As a rule, it has already reached its peak from the moment it is marketed. A diverse culture has developed around the enjoyment of sparkling wine (champagne). See Champagne cocktail, Champagne glass, Champagne bucket, Champagne pyramid, Champagne tongs and Sabrieren (Champagne heads).

The different degrees of sweetness depending on the residual sugar content are listed under Sparkling Wine. A detailed description of sparkling wine production with all processing steps can be found under Champagne. Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques, as well as the legally regulated wine, sparkling wine and distillate types are included under the keyword vinification. Comprehensive information on wine law can be found under wine law.

Shakespeare: The Washington Times, Public domain, Link
Schlegel: origin unknown, in common, link
Devrient: By C. W. Wohlien - Portraits, Public domain, Link

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