What’s The Difference Between Wine, Sparkling Wine, And Champagne?

Wine, champagne
Wine, champagne

The wine world can be quite daunting for a beginner, starting from the unknown vocabulary to the numerous types of wine that have different purposes. We know it can be pretty overwhelming, but reading this article will be a great start to understanding wines better.

  1. Wine versus Sparkling Wine

As you probably already know, the main difference between still and sparkling wine is that the latter contains carbon dioxide. This effect is obtained by taking the wine through a second fermentation process, where yeasts and sugars are added to the drink. The carbon dioxide is then trapped into the bottle to provide the effervescence we all know and love.

On top of that, winemakers often add other fruits and extracts to the sparkling wine to create a signature taste. These flavors include strawberries, citrus, pears, apples, vanilla, and more.

  1. Sparkling Wine versus Champagne

Differentiating sparkling wine from Champagne can be quite the problem since they share so many attributes. What you need to remember is that all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.

Champagne is actually a drink made in a region with the same name: Champagne, France. Sparkling wines made outside this area cannot be called Champagne, as the name represents a particular taste and method of creation.

The production process is very strictly regulated by the Appellation d’Origine Controlée. In order to put the Champagne label on their bottle, winemakers from this region have to follow the Traditional Method (Méthode Traditionnelle), also known as Méthode Champenoise. This technique has a long list of specific guidelines, including a second fermentation step done directly in the bottle.

While sparkling wine can be created from all types of grapes, Champagne is restricted to seven: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier, and Arbane. The harvest grows in a mild climate with rich mineral soil, which offers the grapes a specific taste.

So, to summarize, Champagne is different from sparkling wine because:

  • It has to be produced in the homonym region of Champagne, France;
  • It follows a strict set of production rules that do not apply to other sparkling wines.

Most sparkling wines are made from a blend of grape juice from different years, and they can be compared based on taste, bubble size, and method of production. However, a few popular sparkling wines have their own set of guidelines and are known for their distinctive taste.

For instance, Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, is only made from prosecco or glera grapes. Cava, which comes from Spain, is mainly made from xarello, macabeu, and parellada grapes.

If the champagne price tag scares you, we recommend trying out a U.S. sparkling wine first. Most of them are made according to the Méthode Champenoise, so they make a great Champagne alternative.

Now that you know the difference between wine, sparkling wine, and Champagne, you are set to make an informed decision in the wine aisle. If you are wondering which is better, this is truly a matter of taste. Our advice is to try them all and decide for yourself!


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