The Best Types of Sparkling Wine for Mimosas

sparkling wine for mimosas

With temperatures warming, it’s officially brunch season. Some may take a beat between shedding a layer of winter clothing and popping bottles, while others somehow manage to simultaneously do both, racing towards a sun-drenched patio, rallying for the return of the Mimosa. 

Of course, the Mimosa is a year-round cocktail enjoyed on any celebratory occasion, from wedding showers to Easter Sunday to Mother’s Day. But something about the combination of effervescent bubbles and the bright yellow color screams, “Summertime sipping!”

The Mimosa is a no-frills cocktail that combines sparkling wine and orange juice. The proportions are simple: 50% of each. Surprisingly, however, there are many ways to mess it up.  

The defining factor that gauges a Mimosa’s success is the type of sparkling wine. Some (maybe those with padded wallets) insist that only Champagne will suffice, while others argue for the versatility of Prosecco, Cava, or even a Pet-Nat. 

So, what’s the truth behind this bubbly concoction? For this, we enlist the expertise of Jeff Porter, sommelier, educator, and host of Eating & Drinking on SOMM TV

In this wintery clip from Bagels & Mimosas with Jeff Porter (we told you Mimosas can be year-round), he explains how the Mimosa derived from a previous iteration called the Buck’s Fizz. 


Why Champagne Isn’t Best for Mimosas

Contrary to popular belief, Champagne isn’t ideal for a Mimosa. While the traditional French fizz is undoubtedly luxurious and celebratory, it doesn’t typically complement the sweetness of orange juice.

According to Porter, “I’m a purist. I like [Champagne] on its own, except for a Kir Royal or a French 75; Champagne does make a difference to those cocktails.”

Porter’s regard for purity derives from Champagne’s renowned autolytic flavors, a result of its traditional production method. These can sometimes overpower the fruity and fresh notes of orange juice, leading to an imbalanced cocktail. 

While an imbalance of flavors can ruin any mid-morning imbibe, an imbalance of the bank account is worse. Champagne’s price point is its greatest hindrance regarding its role in a Mimosa. Why spend $60+ per bottle only to hide its complexity in a mixed cocktail?

Opting for a less expensive and more approachable sparkling wine allows for enjoyment without breaking the bank while still savoring its effervescence and lightness.

Why Prosecco and Orange Juice Work

Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine popular for its affordability and approachability, is a fantastic sparkling wine for Mimosas. Its fruity and floral notes blend beautifully with the citrusy brightness of orange juice, creating a refreshing and balanced libation.

Italians produce Prosecco using the Charmat method, also known as the Martinotti method, which involves secondary fermentation inside a bigger tank instead of Champagne’s method, which happens inside the bottle.

“When you do secondary fermentation in a bottle, there’s less wine per volume, so there’s more yeast influence in the wine. In the Martinotti method, you’ve got a big tank, so it’s focused more on this freshness and fruitiness,” explains Porter. 

Like Champagne and other sparkling wines, Prosecco can range in sweetness. Porter clarifies that brut Prosecco is “a middle to low sweetness level,” while extra dry confusingly means that more sweetness is evident in the flavors. “I like to use brut or extra brut, which means drier — OJ has enough sweetness [for me].”

Other Types of Sparkling Wine for Mimosas

If you’re feeling adventurous or want to explore beyond Prosecco, there are plenty of other sparkling wines to consider for your next Mimosa adventure. 

Cava, one of Spain’s answers to sparkling wine, offers excellent value and a crisp and refreshing profile. While Cava is made similar to Champagne, the indigenous grapes — Xarel-lo, Macabeu, and Parellada — add bright acidity, aromatics, and subtle notes of apple and pear, bringing depth to the cocktail without overpowering the citrusy notes.

For those who prefer a slightly sweeter option, Moscato d’Asti, a sparkling wine from Italy’s Piedmont region, is an excellent choice. With its aromatic bouquet and light effervescence, Moscato d’Asti adds a delicate sweetness to Mimosas, making them dangerously easy to sip on a lazy Sunday morning.

And for more of a left-field option, Porter suggests a Petillant Natural Sparkling Riesling. “The varietal aromatics shine,” he explains. “There’s obviously the orange note [from the orange juice], but peach, apricot, and stone fruit come out with a hint of lemon. It’s a winner; both components show their own qualities together.”

Champagne undoubtedly has its place in celebrations. But when it comes to sparkling wine in Mimosas, opting for more affordable and fruit-forward sparkling wines like Prosecco, Cava, or Moscato d’Asti can elevate your brunch experience without breaking the bank.

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