Four Things About Champagne and Sparkling Wine You Didn’t Know

31st August 2021

Champagne Agrapart et Fils glass

Have you wanted to know the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine but felt it was too late to ask?

Before we dive into some facts about Champagne and sparkling wine, we need to name the one thing they have in common: Champagne is always sparkling wine, but sparkling wine can only be Champagne if it’s from Champagne.

Now that you know the truth about one of the biggest misconceptions about these fizzy drinks, let’s discuss some important qualities that make both so special.

Region of Production Determines the Name
Sparkling white wine only earns the title of Champagne because it comes from the Champagne region of Northern France. Sparkling wine can be produced anywhere, determined by the region’s name or grapes of which it is made.

You probably already know the most famous sparkling wines, like Prosecco, the Italian sparkling white wine made from Glera grapes. There’s also Cava, the white or rose wine made from a blend of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo grapes in Spain.

You can dine at places like The Orange Public House & Hotel Victoria or other gastropubs to test your new knowledge of sparkling wines.

Champagne Was Created by Accident 
Freezing temperatures in the 1400s halted the wine fermentation process until the following spring, when warmer temperatures organically facilitated the second fermentation process we use today. The unexpected carbon dioxide levels led to bottles exploding in cellars because of the fizziness.

Until around the 17th century, many people consider this process improper winemaking. The true father of Champagne is debatable, but the cultivation of this happy accident created what we know as Champagne today. Dom Perignon perfected the necessary blending techniques to reproduce the natural occurrence centuries prior.

Making Champagne Follows a Stricter Process 
Champagne is made using a traditional set of guidelines called the Methode Champenoise. The process describes how carbon dioxide bubbles form in the bottle when the yeast is added to the sugar. This secondary fermentation process gives champagne the signature bubbles it requires to be authentic.
Sparkling wine does not require such a precise production method to be given its name. Achieving the second fermentation process is done by developing it in a large tank then pouring it into the bottles. Carbon dioxide can also be expelled directly into a giant tank, then into bottles to bypass the natural second fermentation.

The Difference Between Vintage and Non-Vintage
Champagne can be double the price or more than other sparkling wines because of the enhanced quality of the grapes and its production method alone. Alternative sparkling wines are a more affordable option for the masses. Although it is cheaper, it still offers a variety of quality with vintage and non-vintage options.

If the drink is vintage, it means that all the grapes used were from one year, it will also contribute to a higher price. Vintage bottles are required to age for a minimum of three years and produce smaller batches. A non-vintage bottle is a blend of at least two different years in one bottle and aged for a minimum of 15 months.

Drink Up
You’re now one step closer to becoming a Champagne and sparkling wine connoisseur with some background knowledge on what divorces these two bubbly drinks. We dispelled the common misconception about the naming of Champagne and why it separates itself from the rest of the sparkling white wines.

The unexpected production process that turned wine into Champagne may not have been a hit after its conception. Still, it has been a global success since French royalty was able to capitalize off its unique addition to the world of sparkling wine.

Whether you have an affinity for Champagne or any other sparkling wine can only be determined by its taste.

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