Many people are in the habit of calling any sparkling wine “Champagne.” Although people will definitely know what you’re referring to, you might not realize that the name Champagne actually refers to something very specific, not just any bottle of bubbly. You may also have heard people call it “Prosecco,” “Cava” or just “sparkling wine,” and been confused about the differences, but there are actually some pretty straightforward distinctions between the most popular sparkling wines.
The main difference between all sparkling wines is the region they come from. True Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France, which is east of Paris. Prosecco, on the other hand, is Italian, and it is made in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. Cava is made in Spain. There are other types sparkling wine, however, that can be made anywhere. California, for example, produces a broad array of sparkling wines.
2. Type Of Grape
Champagne is usually made with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Prosecco, on the other hand, is made with Glera grapes. Other sparkling wines, such as Cava from Spain, can contain a variety of other types of grapes instead of or in addition to the ones mentioned previously.
3. Production Method
Champagne and Prosecco are also made by different processes. Champagne is made using Méthode Champenoise, a process also known as secondary fermentation. A base wine is first fermented in a container. Then, sugar and yeast are added, and the wine is transferred to a bottle, where it is fermented again. It then stays for months or even years, while the yeast eats the sugar and creates carbon dioxide bubbles. The dead yeast cells are then removed, some sugar and wine is added, and then you’ve got yourself a finished bottle of Champagne.
Prosecco is processed a little differently, and in a way that is usually much cheaper and quicker. Instead of bottles, Prosecco typically undergoes its second fermentation in tanks.
Spanish Cava is actually made by the same process as Champagne, but the process is instead called traditionelle.
In general, Prosecco tends to be sweeter than Champagne because of the grapes that are used. Champagne tends to have a more yeasty flavor, while Prosecco is more fruity and aromatic. Both can vary in sweetness and dryness. Cava is less sweet than Prosecco, and has an earthier taste than Champagne.