To start with, it is only fair that we gain an understanding of what exactly is meant by Champagne vs sparkling wine. The two leisure beverages are widely enjoyed in the world today by individuals from different social classes. Just a mention of the name and almost everyone knows what you’re talking about and could probably state their favorite brand name.

Many questions arise as to whether Champagne vs sparkling wine is the same thing and whether these names can be interchangeably used. The answer is simple. It is said that all Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagne. That being said, the difference between these is majorly anchored in the geographical region of production and the primary ingredients used in manufacturing, which are mainly grapes.

Champagne VS Sparkling Wine Everything You Need to Know
Champagne, macarons, and Milan @epicureans.wine

Then Where Exactly Does the Difference Lie?

There might be little or no difference in their method of production. Champagne is only Champagne if it is solely from the Champagne province of northern France where it derives its name from. 

True Champagne is French!

Sparkling wine, on the other hand, is wine produced outside the Champagne region of France. Therefore, with the availability of grapes and expertise, sparkling wine can be produced anywhere in the world.

Knowing that they both are products of grape fermentation, the number and type of grapes used in their production differs. Check out “Best Grapes for Making Wine” to see the kinds of grapes that go into making a bottle of wine.

In Champagne production, there are seven exclusive and specially grown grapes (practically in nutrient-rich soils under mild climatic conditions) that are strictly handpicked and later processed in an enclosed environment, thus giving birth to the rich, fruity flavour experienced in every sip of the drink. These are:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Petit Meslier (the three widely used)
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Arbane
  • Pinot Meunier

While champagne production is particular to the type of grape used, sparkling wine could use a number or a substitute of these grapes in its creation. Learn how to make a variation of the traditional wine and impress your friends in “How to Make Blueberry Wine?” Your wine will be blue!

Champagne VS Sparkling Wine Everything You Need to Know
Zekt, sparkling wine from Germany @dufour21_le

Production

Behind every high-quality drink experienced in each sip is an intriguing strict and rigorous process. Champagne is made through a systematic two-step fermentation process known as Méthode Champenoise. 

Here, the handpicked grapes are first fermented to alcohol, after which the resulting product, which is technically wine, (but quite acidic) is bottled and subjected to a second fermentation process (done in a single bottle setup for a certain period of time in order to attain maturity, thus giving rise to a complex and unique flavour in each one of them).

Carbon dioxide is trapped in the process, and this can later reflect in the final product as pops and bubbles.

Several techniques could be employed in sparkling wine production where in most cases, cane sugar and yeast are added in the secondary fermentation stage to achieve and retain carbon dioxide. All the six significant methods individually give rise to a difference in bubble and carbon levels of the resulting end product and depending on a country’s preference, the traditional method, transfer method, ancestral method, tank method, continuous method and carbonation can be used. Learn the process it takes to make one bottle of wine in “How To Make Wine At Home“.

Champagne VS Sparkling Wine Everything You Need to Know
Glass of champagne @champagne.travels

Taste

Not all drinks are sweet to the tongue as not everyone prefers their drink sweet. Some people like it overly sweet, some like it slightly sweetened while others wish to have it plain and dry. That is why there something for everyone in the world of champagnes and wines. Take a look at “The Most Popular Sweet Wines” for a list of sweet wines that may interest your palate.

Depending on the method of production, Champagne is either vintage or non-vintage while sparkling wine is either brut (dry), extra brut, fruity, bready or citrusy.

Brut or dry wine is usually unsweetened, and ironically, the extra brut, which means less dry, is sweeter.

On the other hand, Champagne is termed vintage if the grapes used in its production are from a particular year’s harvest while non-vintage is one from a combination/variety of grapes harvested from different years.

Market and Pricing

The final products’ market pricing is mostly influenced by factors ranging from 

  • The overall work put into their production
  • The quality of the primary ingredients used
  • The quality of the land where these grapes are grown
  • The method of production employed 
  • The effervescence (bubbles) 
  • Consistency of the final product.

Champagne generally tends to be pricier than its sparkling wine counterpart when it gets to the market. This, however, does not mean than a good glass of sparkling wine can’t be enjoyed if one isn’t in a position to purchase Champagne.

The finer or small-bubbled wines are also pricier than the course ones as they are considered to be of a higher quality. The dry and bready wines are equally pricey.

A Sparkle for Everyone

Some of the well-known sparkling wines are identified by their region of production and distinct taste/flavour. 

  • In Germany, they have Sekt (pronounced as Zekt). 
  • American sparkling wine is a product of the USA, 
  • Prosecco is made in Italy (from Glera grapes),
  • Cava is a Spanish pastime (Macabeu, Parellada and Xarello grapes)
  • French sparkling wine is from French locations outside Champagne.

Tasting is by far the best way for one to identify a perfect drink and establish a preference, with a particular emphasis on the fruitiness and the bubble size of said drink. A good drink doesn’t necessarily need to be the sweetest but should be fresh, fruity and bubbly, thus bringing forth a sense of great satisfaction to the consumer.

Secondly, it is said that for it to be considered quality and to give the so desired and sought-after tinkle, it must be tongue-penetrating. A feature primarily achieved from the citrusy in the grapes after the fermentation process.

Champagne VS Sparkling Wine Everything You Need to Know
Bottles of champagne @yourdailydrinks

Rules of Consumption

When it comes to what to take, the concept boils down to what you like and enjoy as an individual and not necessarily what the universe dictates. It doesn’t always have to be the most expensive or chic one. It’s all about you! A question of whether to serve it before or after dinner also arises and just like the idea of which one to purchase, the answer lies with you! It is all about your preference. Should you want it before dinner, by all means please go for it. Check out “What Wine Should I Drink With Steak” to see how you can pair your dinner tonight with a wine or two.

Serve it chilled

A good glass of wine needs to be a chilled one. Take your Champagne out of refrigeration just a few minutes before serving. Temperatures of between eight and nine degrees Celsius give you a perfect glass of wine for any occasion. Be sure to read “What Temperature Does Wine Freeze?” for info on handling your bottle of wine in the fridge.

Master the art of opening it

Always utilize your thumb. Avoid spilling your precious product by remembering to always twist the bottle (not the cork) whilst your thumb securely holds the cork, immediately the wire cage (muselet) has been removed. Take a look at “How Long is Wine Good for After You Open It?” or “How to Store Wine After Opening” for the best tips to storing your bottle of wine and keeping it secure after opening.

Invest in a proper champagne glass

Unlike coupes and flutes, wide-mouthed tulip glasses are said to enhance the development of champagne aromas. They provide a large surface area for you to smell the aroma, thus giving you great satisfaction in every sip.

Champagne VS Sparkling Wine Everything You Need to Know
French sparkling wine @bubblesandsparklesofficial

The Main Differences Between Sparkling Wine and Champagne range from subtle to distinct. They are both rich and give your tongue a tingling sensation hard to replicate. However, they have different historical, geographical, and cultural origins, and wine connoisseurs generally appreciate these distinctions.

What’s your favorite between champagne vs sparkling wine? Let us know in the comments below! Also, let us know your favorite sparkling wine brand. We’ll add it to our list of topics to talk about. Check out “Beginner Wines that You Need to Try” for a list of wines to try out if you’re just getting familiar with different wine tastes.

Wine on My Time is a resource blog for wine lovers all across the world! We take pride in delivering the best quality wine material for our readers. Check us out on Instagram and   Pinterest for daily wine content!

Bottoms up! We’ll uncork ya later!! 🍷

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