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Is There a Difference Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine?

Just like not all that glitters is gold, not every sparkling wine can be called Champagne. But why is that? 

If this question ever tortured your mind, and you didn’t know the answers to it, we’ll help you. You’ll learn the story behind the battle of sparkling wine vs. Champagne if there are more types of Champagne, how to compare Prosecco vs. Champagne and everything else that you wanted to know.   

And the next time you crave a bubbly drink, you’ll be able to drink it like a pro, knowing everything you need to know about it.   

What Is a Sparkling Wine?   

The first thing you need to learn is what precisely a wine like this is. Sparkling wines are different from regular, still wines because they are saturated with carbon dioxide gas. This gas is responsible for the exciting bubbles we all like, just like in a soda.   

This type of wine is produced all over the world, it’s super interesting, tasty, great for parties and celebrations, and it’s loved by many. Sparkling wine can be produced from different grape varieties and using different methods.   

You’ve probably heard about many bubbly wines before, like Prosecco from Italy, Sekt from Germany, or Cava from Spain. And the main star of our story, Champagne from France. You can come across many comparisons of Prosecco vs. Champagne, and we’ll do one too so that you know which one to choose and how to tell the difference between Prosecco and Champagne.  

What Is Champagne?   

You probably know by now that Champagne is a sparkling wine, and if you didn’t know where it was from, now you also know that it comes from France.   

The Champagne Region   

And that’s the main difference that pops up when you compare sparkling wine vs. Champagne, the geographical origin. But you should also know that not every sparkling wine from France is Champagne. Only the wine produced from the grapes grown, fermented, and later bottled in Champagne in France can carry that name. 

This region is around an hour and a half away from Paris, and it’s one of the most famous wine regions in the world. The history of winemaking in this region is rich, and it dates to the 1700s.  

The Champagne’s Grapes   

The exclusivity of Champagne wine also lies in the grapes used for its production. Not all grapes are used or allowed to produce this wine, which provides a delicate and exclusive final product. 

The grapes that are allowed are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier, and Arbane. We could say that there are different types of Champagne due to the different combinations of the grapes used. The winemakers’ skills come to life every time a new batch is produced, and years of knowledge of combining carefully selected grapes.   

Most types use 1/3 of Chardonnay mixes and 2/3 red ones. It gives the wine its significant flavor, aroma, structure, and recognizable freshness.   

The Champagne Making Process   

No matter the different types of Champagne, the process used for making them is the same, and it’s called “The Classic Method,” or Methode Traditionnelle.   

The process is not easy, and not everyone can do it properly. It requires years of knowledge and special techniques. The famous sparkle in all types of Champagne is from the second fermentation that occurs in the bottle. It’s important to acknowledge that because it’s what makes this wine special and unique.   

The process starts by fermenting grapes into still wine. The yeast and sugars are added to it so that the second fermentation can happen when the wine is bottled. But, that’s not the end of the process. The wine has to age for at least 15 months, and an essential step during that time is rotating the bottle slowly. A lot more goes into producing this unique wine, and it’s a process of labor and love. 

Strict laws and standards control the whole process. Many rules have to be obeyed, and not everyone can do it. These rules don’t exist for the production of other sparkling wines. And that’s why Champagne is exclusive and where it gets the price it has. So, the next time someone talks about this topic, you’ll know how to explain who is the winner in the battle between sparkling wine vs. Champagne.  

Different Types of Champagne  

Even though the same traditional method is used when making this type of wine, there can be various types. The differences are in the mix of different grapes.  

Different types of Champagne are different in style. Most Champagnes are dry in style, called Brut, but the slightly sweet ones are also called the Doux.   

This will help you decide which bottle to choose when shopping for Champagne. If you want a bubbly but dry wine, always choose a Brut, but if you are a sweet wine aficionado, then the Doux is the right choice. This rule can also be used when choosing other bubbly wines.   

Sparkling wine vs. Champagne  

Excellent sparkling wine can be made using the same method as the Champagne making method, the same grape mix, but if it isn’t made in the Champagne region, it’s just wine with bubbles.  

However, that doesn’t mean that every sparkling wine is low-quality. Many bubbly wines across the world are outstanding and high-quality. Some use the same method as Champagne, others use the Tank method where the second fermentation occurs in the tank, and some use the Ancestral method where ice-cold temperatures are used to slow fermentation before bottling the wine.  

Different Types of Sparkling Wine   

There are many fun and exciting wines out there that have bubbles, and these are the most known ones.   

  • Prosecco – The most famous sparkling wine outside the Champagne region is Prosecco. The difference between Prosecco and Champagne can be seen in the production process, the grapes that are used, and of course, in the final product. The main difference between Prosecco and Champagne that even an untrained eye can catch is the size of the bubbles. The French wine has fine and delicate bubbles, and the Italian one has large bubbles. There are many high-quality Prosecco wines, and when you compare Prosecco vs. Champagne, your preferences will dictate which one is better.  
  • Sekt – German bubbly wine can be sweet or dry, and it has less percentage of alcohol than its French relative. Before the Treaty of Versailles, the German sparkling juice of the Gods was called Champagne, but after, it had to be renamed. And from then, it’s known as Sekt.  
  • Cava – A delicate wine made from Macabeu grapes is very similar to the exclusive French wine and a great option if you are on a budget.   
  • French sparkling wines – French also produces many other wines with bubbles outside of the Champagne region, and they are called Crémant. They can be sweet or dry, and there are even rose types.   
  • American sparkling wines – Many great wines originate from the U.S.; some even use Champagne grapes and techniques. But there are also some unique recipes and production methods.

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