The sparkling wine vs champagne debate has gone down between wine lovers across the world. Which is better? What is the difference between sparkling wine and champagne? Don’t be fooled by the fizzy similarities both beverages hold! The difference between champagne vs sparkling wine is quite involved and has less to do with what it looks like.
The fact of the matter is, the difference between wine types has a lot to do with the type of grape, how long the skin has fermented, and how it is made during the winemaking process. True, champagne and sparkling wine both have bubbles, and generally speaking the same color, but there are major differences.
This article will go over the similarities and differences in sparkling wine and champagne, describe the difference between champagne and sparkling wine, and give you insight into what the winemaking process is like for these two beverages to better your understanding.
What is Champagne?
Champagne originates from Champagne, France and is one of the most notable differences between champagne versus wine and champagne versus sparkling wine. champagne is a region in France located in the northeastern corner, just outside of Paris, where the label is King (or Queen) and without grapes grown in this region, you best believe it isn’t “true” champagne.
Some of the earliest champagne was harvested by the wine-loving Romans in 400 A.D. with the vineyards remaining true to their original growth in a span of 76,000 acres and across approximately 319 villages.
The champagne harvested in this area include:
- pinot noir
- pinot meunier
- pinot gris
- pinot blanc
These grapes have a very distinct taste to them as they hail from a soil that is classified as both mineral rich and inside a characteristically mild climate that is perfect to grow the grapes that champagne is produced from. Across the board, the variations of grapes above are generally mixed, however, the most popular grapes for champagne are red (about ⅔) and Chardonnay (about ½).
This ratio is dependant on the type of red or white used and also the desired end result. Fruit forward? Crisp? Fresh? It is up to the winemaker and their goal for the dry, fizzy, fruity taste of their champagne. The mild climate and mineral-rich soil allow for champagne to have an extremely unique taste that is pleasant for almost every occasion.
How is Champagne Made?
The process of making or creating the perfect champagne uses the process better known as Methode Champenoise or fermentation. After the grapes and ratios are selected, the crushed grape juice is allowed time to ferment and eventually bottled with carbon dioxide gas in order to create the fizzy bubbles we all know and love.
Of course, there is much more to creating a glass of champagne that will last the test of time. Typically, other elements are added to champagne to give it a high-quality, distinct taste. For example, a winemaker might choose to put yeast and sugar only to remove the dead cells of yeast later to unravel a completely pure, distinctly champagne wine.
It isn’t easy to just create your own champagne, either. This is a distinct difference in the answer to the question is champagne sparkling wine? In a sense, yes, champagne is a sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine can nor will it be called champagne. This, in large part, is due to the specifications and restrictions that are relayed and controlled through the French organization appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC). Because champagne is so coveted, the way the wine is made, how it is stored, the environment in which it was/is grown, the concentration ratios (i.e. sugar and acid), among many other qualities and characteristics.
When it comes time to know whether or not champagne is champagne, it is important to look at the label and see where the wine was made. True champagne and not sparkling wine, will be labeled as Champagne from the region of France with seven distinguished grapes that classify the wine as true champagne.
Champagne and sparkling wine can be made from the same types of grapes, such as a Rose or Brut, however, the region is key and will be the major differentiating factor when choosing between the difference between sparkling wine and champagne.
What are the Sparkling Wines?
Sparkling wine is classified by the bubble size, where it is made, and the fruitiness that is associated with the wine. Some great examples of sparkling wine include Prosecco, Cava, French Sparkling Wine, moscato, and other genres of American Sparkling Wine. Sparkling wine is both fruity, fizzy, and can be either dry, fruity, and made with oaky tones, nutty flavors, and variations in shade.
Looking to explore more fizzy wines? Castello Del Poggio has created some of the most interesting, delicious, and finely crafted sparkling wines for you to enjoy. Check out some of our other articles about the different types of wine we produce and head to our website to find out where you can buy a bottle of your own!