Spumante vs. Champagne: Battle of the Bubblies

My piece on Italian sparkling wines is up at Time.

When you pop a cork this holiday season, there’s a good chance that the bubbles in your glass won’t be French. Hard times, it turns out, can sometimes be good times — especially if you’re a producer of Italian sparkling wine, or spumante. While the recession has taken some of the fizz out of France’s champagne industry, in Italy, the bottles of bubbly have been flying off the shelves.

According to the Italian farmers’ association Coldiretti, exports of spumante jumped 22% in the first half of 2010 — much of that thanks to demand from the U.S. — following a year in which Italian growers outproduced the French region of Champagne for the first time. Even as winemakers in France cut their number of bottles by 44% in 2009 in the face of slumping sales, exports from Italy surpassed domestic consumption.

Read the rest.