The sparkling wine of choice these days? Could it be cavas from Spain, France’s Champagne, sparklers from California or Virginia, sekt from Germany?

Frank Call, wine guru at Kroger’s East Ridge store, just might have the answer, and numbers seem to back him up.

“Prosecco has taken over the sparkling-wine market,” he said.

In the latest full-year numbers available, prosecco sales made up 20 percent of sparkling-wine sales in the U.S. in 2017, according to a Nielsen report. Those sales rose an astounding 21.1 percent over the previous year.

There’s a reason for prosecco popping out.

“Proseccos are light, fresh and fun,” Call said. “Known as the bubbles of Venice, it is affordable for everyday drinking or as a mixer.

“It is usually made in an extra-dry style, meaning a hint of residual sugar, not enough for most to pick up on the palate but enough to keep it from being bitter or austere.”

Usually made from the glera grape (once called prosecco), such little-known grapes as verdiso, bianchetta trevigiana, perera are also used, as are more traditional chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot noir.

There is a difference between proseccos and other sparkling wines, Call said.

“Cavas are a little more serious, complex and have finer and more bubbles,” he said. “American sparkling wine can be across-the-board, but for over $20, you can find American sparkling wines that rival their French counterparts, using the same grapes and processes as the French and producing the same creamy elegance.”

Are these wines more popular than a Champagne?

“True Champagne demands a hefty price, usually $50 or more,” Call said. “It’s a noticeable upgrade, but one most are not willing to pay.

“The best alternatives to Champagne are the méthode traditionelle sparkling wine from California. There are many good ones, but a sure thing is one made by a French producer like Chandon, Roederer or Taittinger.”

Prosecco’s rise in popularity is a trend of the sparkling-wine industry as a whole.

“Sparkling wine is no longer saved for New Year’s Eve and weddings,” Call said. “Richmond is a brunch town, and sparkling wine is a perfect match.”

And a perfect way to complement your holiday feast or party.

Vines & Wines appears monthly in Culture. Contact Jack Berninger at

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