WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPARKLING WINE AND CHAMPAGNE?

This is a question majority of people often ask. There is a distinction between sparkling wine and actual Champagne. We are here to explain the specific differences between the two.

About Champagne

The important thing you need to be aware of Champagne is that it is a sparkling wine from the region of France. The name is peculiar to wines from this region. However, there are other kinds of sparkling wines, but those different types are not referred to as Champagne because they are not produced within the Champagne region. The Champagne region is known for mild climate together with a chalky soil so rich in quality minerals. The uniqueness of the soil gives a distinctive flavor to the grapes grown on it.

Another essential fact that separates Champagne from other sparkling wines is that it must be made following the appellation d’ Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation. This body regulates the production process and also ties a product to its region of origin. Along with Champagne, Armagnac and Calvados also have the status of AOC.

The method of champagne production is called Méthode Champenoise is Méthode Champenoise which involves a two-step fermentation. The grape juice is fermented before bottling to trap the CO2 from escaping. The trapped CO2 is what produces the bubbles, which in turn make Champagne effervescent.

Another essential fact about Champagne is that only six grapes varieties are used in producing it. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay are some of the most popular grapes. Furthermore, Champagne can also be produced with Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Arbane grapes. However, these are rarely used as the three mentioned above. Grapes for making Champagne are specially handpicked before being pressed. According to AOC, the grapes can only be pressed twice. Concentrated Cuvée also undergoes the same process.  

What is “sparkling wine?”

In its simplest form, sparkling wine is a wine with C02 bubbles suspended in it. How those bubbles got trapped and where they got there is what makes a significant difference. Spotting Sparkling wine is not difficult. It’s a carbonated wine with bubbles. If you must know, Champagne is, in fact, a sparkling wine, too. But not all sparkling wine is Champagne. This is very important. The method and location are what matters.

Sparkling wines are made worldwide with different formulation methods to bring out numerous qualities in each wine. For example, the bubble size, including the fruitiness level makes sparkling wines different from each other.

The different varieties of sparkling wines include:

Prosecco.  This is a very dry Italian sparkling wine that comprises larger bubbles. Globally, Prosecco is used in mixed drink production.

Sekt.  This is Germanys’ version of sparkling wine. It is sweeter and contains less alcohol when compared to Champagne. It also comprises of other aromas, such as pears and apples.

Cava. This Spanish sparkling wine is made from Macabeu grapes, which has a similar flavor to Champagne. Cava production is modeled from champagne production though the grapes used in this process originated from Spain. Just like Champagne, cava comes from only a particular region in Spain, and the production uses one specific method. Methode Champenoise is the Spanish equivalent of Método Tradicional.

THE BOTTOM LINE

To determine whether a wine should be classified as Champagne or sparkling, you need to note the location it was produced. Looking out for the word “Champagne” on the bottle’s label is the easiest way to spot real-deal. In most cases, sparkling wine will be much less expensive when compared to Champagne. If you are in a difficult position of determining which one to go for, then you need to think about how you expect to use the wine. If you want to drink a bottle of quality wine, Champagne, or one of the higher-rated sparkling wines, is preferable.