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The wine industry is full of terminology that may be confusing to the average person. For example, the Italians refer to slightly sparkling wines as frizzante wines. In Spain, however, these wines are known as Vino de Aguja. The French term for them is Petillant, while the German term is Perlwein.
Frizzante wines have small bubbles that offer a refreshing tingle while helping to mask the wine’s sweetness. They are also considered to be slightly less effervescent than champagne. People who find champagne to be too “fizzy” may find that a frizzante is a good alternative choice for weddings, anniversaries, holidays, and other special occasions.
Novices often confuse frizzante wines with spumantes, but true wine aficionados understand the subtle difference between these two terms. While semi-sparkling frizzantes get their bubbles from a partial second fermentation, spumante wines are fully sparkling wines that are typically made with the traditional Méthode champenoise.
Although there are many different types of frizzante, Lambrusco, Gavi, Vinho Verde, and Moscato d'Asti are among the most common. Lambrusco is one of the most popular, and the grapes used to make this aromatic wine originate in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The term secco is used to indicate a dry wine, while amabile is used to indicate a sweet wine on the labels. Lambrusco’s high carbon dioxide content makes it a good alternative to French-style wine.
Gavi is a yellow-gold wine named for Princess Gavia, daughter of the Frankish King Clodomiro. This wine features subtle flavors of apple, citrus, and honeysuckle and is a popular accompaniment to fish. It is the most expensive Italian white wine shipped to the United States.
Moscato d'Asti is a frizzante wine from the soft pressing of the Moscato Bianco grape in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is often served as a dessert wine, but may be enjoyed as an aperitif as well. Wine experts typically recommend that Moscato d'Asti be consumed within two years of the vintage.
Vinho Verde is an inexpensive Portuguese frizzante. Although the name literally means “green wine,” it refers to the fact that the wine should be enjoyed while it is still young. These wines are available in white, red, and rose varieties, but only the white wines are exported out of the country. Vinho Verde is most often served with clams, lobsters, crabs, or shrimp.