What Makes Sparkling Wine Different From Champagne

As much as I enjoy a fancy cocktail now and again, my favourite tipple of choice is wine. And lately, I’ve been loving the taste and celebratory feel of sparkling wine especially. I’ve even carbonated my own wine to make it at home!

But if I was ever asked “What’s the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne?” I would have struggled a bit with the answer. That’s why I decided to learn more about sparkling wine vs. Champagne! If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, wonder no more!

kathryn on carnival magic cruise ship

Champagne Uses Specific Grapes

When someone is discussing Champagne they will be talking about a beverage made with one or more of the following grapes:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Arbane
  • Petit Meslier
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Meunier

If someone is searching online for pinot noir Champagne, for example, they may be comparing different types and prices.

The variables include such things as a county, region, farming, and appellation. There’s also vintage to consider.

By way of contrast, sparkling wines can be anything from Brut (which is extra dry) to sweet dessert wines or Rose.

Champagne Is From One Region

There are no points for guessing that true Champagne is only produced in Champagne, France (or within one hundred miles of this location)! This spans 76,000 acres and includes 319 villages.

Once again, this can be contrasted with sparkling wines, which are made all over the world. For example, Sekt is produced in Austria and Germany, and Canva is Spanish. France produces sparkling wines as well, which may or may not be similar in taste to genuine Champagne.

red wine grapes

Champagne Is Usually More Expensive

Champagne is fermented and bottled in one region only. While there are many local grapes available, only a restricted number are accepted for the drink.

The creation process is very rigid, to ensure the pedigree of the Champagne produced. As a result, some Champagne bottles cost thousands of dollars. Sparkling wines have fewer restrictions and are generally cheaper to buy.

Champagne Has A Distinctive Flavor

The Champagne region has mild temperatures and the local soil is chalky and contains minerals. These factors contribute to the taste of the grapes, giving them a unique flavor that is toasty and nutty, made generally with a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.

Sparkling wines are wider by definition, and different types favor different tastes. One country may prefer a fruity flavor whilst another concern itself with the size of the bubbles.

Many sparkling wines, however, combine Pinot Noir grapes with Chardonnay. And English sparkling wines are made in the South Downs where the terrain is similar to some of the best vineyards in Champagne. The results can be highly comparable to Champagne, making it a great budget alternative.

champagne poured into glasses

They Are Made Differently

When it comes to the bubbles in sparkling wine vs. Champagne, Champagne is always made using a two-step fermentation process. First, the grape juice ferments to produce alcohol. Then, a secondary fermentation in the bottle creates CO2, which gives Champagne its fizz.

Sparkling wine, however, can be carbonated using one of three methods:

  • Traditional method (the Champagne method)
  • Charmat (tank) method
  • Carbonation method

To put it simply, all Champagne is sparkling wine. But not all sparkling wine is Champagne! Treat yourself to the real thing at least once. And then, see how some various sparkling wines compare.

You may find an inexpensive sparkling wine that you like even better, or one that tastes almost the same as the real thing! Regardless of what you choose, bubbly wine makes the perfect drink for celebrations and special events…or just when you need a little treat!

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