These fizzy wines are easy to drink, inexpensive, and perfect for celebrations.
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frizzante semi-sparkling wine
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Sparkling wines, like Champagne, cava, and prosecco, are every sommelier's secret weapon. They're festive, versatile, and food-friendly, pairing with everything from fried chicken to oysters. If you're stuck on a wine pairing, sparkling wines do the trick every time. But what to do if you're just not a fan of these classic styles of bubbly? The good news is, there's a whole other world out there to explore: semi-sparkling wines, known in Italy as frizzante.

Frizzante vs. Spumante

Most Italian sparkling wines, including the majority of prosecco, are classified as 'spumante'—very effervescent with strong, persistent bubbles. In contrast, frizzante wines are merely gently fizzy.

How do winemakers make this distinction? It's all about a technical measurement of the bubble strength called a 'bar,' a metric of atmospheric pressure. Spumante wines typically measure between 5 to 6 bars (that's 73 to 90 pounds per square inch for the science fans out there, or about three times the amount in a car tire!), but frizzante wines have just 1.5 to 2 bars, giving the wines a much more gentle, mellow spritz.

If the bubbles in a typical bottle of sparkling wine are too aggressive for your palate, frizzante would be the way to go. You'll mainly feel the difference in the texture or mouthfeel of the wine; the amount of carbonation doesn't technically alter the flavor of the wine (but it may shift the way we perceive the aroma). You can expect frizzante wines to taste light, fresh, simple, and fruity as these wines typically aren't barrel aged or put through winemaking processes that lend more complexity. They're intended to be easy-drinking and to show off the natural fruit flavors.

Frizzante to Try

According to the Consorzio di Tutela del Prosecco DOC, just 23 percent of Prosecco is frizzante, as opposed to 76 percent that is spumante (and an extremely rare 1 percent is a style called 'tranquilo,' with no bubbles at all). Whether a prosecco is frizzante or spumante will be indicated on the label. Other Italian wines that fall into the frizzante category are Moscato d'Asti and Lambrusco.

Try La Delizia Prosecco Frizzante ($11.99, totalwine.com), Oddero Moscato d'Asti ($18, drizly.com), or Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena 2020 ($16.99, wine.com).

Other Semi-Sparkling Wines to Look For

This pleasant mildly fizzy style is not limited to Italian wines. In Spain, look for Txakoli wines from the Basque country, like Nicolas Ulacia e Hijos Ulacia Txakolina Rose 2021 ($19.99, wine.com). Many Portuguese wines from Vinho Verde have a slight spritz to them; try Casal Garcia Vinho Verde ($6.29, totalwine.com). In Germany, semi-sparkling wines are knows as perlwein; we recommend Fritz Muller Perlwein Müller Thurgau Trocken N.V. ($19.99, vivino.com). And finally, a popular style that originated in France called pétillant naturel (just call it pét-nat) has been breaking through in the natural wine scene and winemakers worldwide are making their own versions. A great bottle to start with is La Grange Tiphaine 'Rosa, Rosé, Rosam' ($30, vivino.com).

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