How is Champagne Different to Sparkling Wine?

7th May 2020

Pouring Champagne Moet et Chandon rosé

There is nothing quite like a bottle of fizz for a celebration. Champagne and other sparkling wines add a little something special. For some people, there may not seem to be much difference between Champagne and other types of sparkling wine, but there is some difference.

In basic terms, all Champagne is sparkling wine but a lot of sparkling wine is not Champagne. You can see both types of drinks sold by professionals such as HW Speak Wine Merchants. Understanding the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine is important if you are trying to decide which to buy.

What makes a drink Champagne?

Let’s start by looking at what Champagne is. Champagne is a type of sparkling wine that is made in the Champagne region of France. This region is just outside the French capital Paris. The drink can only be made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.

Although the name of Champagne comes from its region of origin and not the way that it’s produced, it does go through a specific process. This is called the traditional method or Méthode Champenoise. The major difference with this method is the second fermentation process which happens inside the bottle. This fermentation creates CO2 and carbonates the wine. In some cases, bottles of Champagne sit without being sampled for many years. This explains why they can be so expensive to purchase.

Different types of sparkling wine

Champagne is only one of the various types of sparkling wine that can be bought. Other sparkling wines include Prosecco which is produced in Italy and Cava which is produced in Spain. Prosecco is normally made from the Prosecco grape but 15% of this type of wine can be made using other permitted grape varieties. Cava is normally made from a blend of macabeu, parellada, and xarello grapes.

Many of these sparkling wines, especially Prosecco, are produced using the ‘tank method’. This involves a second round of fermentation which takes place in a tank rather than in a bottle as is the case with Champagne. This is an easier production method than that used for Champagne and is ideal for batches of sparkling wine. However, the quality of the end product is not usually as high as Champagne.
In summary
Both Champagne and sparkling wine are popular drinks at times of celebration. They may seem similar and technically they are all forms of sparkling wine. However, Champagne can only be given that name if it comes from the appropriate area of France. The method of production for Champagne is also more complex than for other types of sparkling wine.

This is one of the main reasons why Champagne is more expensive than other wines. It’s a higher level of quality is also a factor in making it a popular choice for people who are looking for a very special drink for a celebration. For anyone who is looking for a more affordable sparkling wine, Prosecco and Cava are popular options.

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