Sparkling Wine vs Champagne solved

06.18.20  \\\  Posted by Cellars Wine of the Month Club  \\\  Wine 101

Often associated with class and glamour, sparkling wine is the way to go when it comes to celebrations. Regardless, sparkling wines can be made in vastly diverse styles and have a great variety of price points to fit different budgets.

Sparkling Wine vs. Champagne

Is sparkling wine Champagne? For most consumers, perceiving the differences between styles, names, and regions can be quite overwhelming. But there's nothing to worry about, at Cellars Wine Club, we've put together the ultimate guide to sparkling wine. 

The simplest answer to the classic sparkling wine vs. Champagne question is that sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it's grown, fermented, and bottled in the region of Champagne, France. As an easy rule of thumb, **all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne**. Champagne can be thought of in terms of geographical location rather than the winemaking style.

There are many different types of sparkling wine. The most popular are Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, and sparkling wine from the New World—primarily from the U.S. and Australia and New Zealand.

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in the region of Champagne, and which is only made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Pinot Meunier grapes. Moreover, Champagne is made using the "traditional" or "champenoise method", which leads to more elegant, sophisticated, nutty yet fresh sparkling wine. The most valued Champagne wines are aged for at least three years.

Prosecco is the most famous Italian sparkling wine. It's made in Northeast Italy from the Glera grape. Most Prosecco wines are made to be enjoyed fresh and young, with bright, flowery, and peachy aromatics.

Cava is the Spanish sparkling wine. It's usually made from a blend of Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, all of which are local grapes. This style of Spanish sparkling offers different tiers of quality: Cava, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. If you're a Champagne lover, the great news is that in Cava can you will find a similar style for a fraction of the price. 

New World Sparkling Wine

Some of the best Champagne houses landed in the U.S. many years ago and are found in Napa, Carneros, and Anderson Valley⁠—some of the best climates to produce world-class sparkling’s. The same model has been replicated in South Africa, Australia, and South America. Zesty, fresh, and with many different levels of complexity, New World Sparkling Wine is a fantastic success story.

Why are sparkling priced so differently?

Three factors determine the price of sparkling wines:

  • How much labor was involved in the winemaking process
  • Where the vineyards are located
  • The size of the wine production

The "method champenoise" is used to make Champagne, Cava, and most U.S. sparkling wines (When second fermentation occurs in the bottle). This is a more complicated process that requires much more labor, time, and resources, forcing the winemaker to handle each bottle many times. In contrast, Prosecco and some New World Sparkling, for instance, are made using the Charmat method, which allows for larger-scale production in much shorter timeframes.

How do I read sparkling wine labels?

If you see a sparkling wine called "Blanc de Blancs," it means it's made exclusively from Chardonnay.

If you see it referred to as "Blanc de Noirs," it's made solely from Pinot Noir. 

If you don't quite enjoy sweet bubbles:

- Dry sparkling are frequently labeled as **pas dosage, zero dosage, brut zero, or brut nature**, depending on where they come from.

- **Extra brut** refers to wines that have slightly residual sugar below 3 g/L, which can also be considered dry.

If you have a sweet-tooth:

- **Brut** and **Extra Sec** both mean that the wine is off-dry or moderately sweet.

- **Sec, Demi-sec, and Doux** are the way to go.

Looking for some Bubbles try Cellars Wine Club Sparkling Club