Battle of the Bubbles

Champagne vs Prosecco and the rest!

For bubbly fans, it’s a great time to be drinking! We have more access to sparkling wines than we have ever had before, the range of styles and countries means that there is something for every taste and price point. But this can make for extra confusion. How do you know what you are going to get? And how much should you spend? I’ve got my top tips here to give you a hand!

What is the difference between Prosecco and Champagne?

This is a frequently asked question, and the answer is: quite a lot! They are from different countries, different grape varieties and different production methods:

·         Prosecco is from Veneto in Italy, made from the Glera grape variety and undergoes a second fermentation in tank to get its bubbles. This means a volume of wine is put into a sealed tank, where yeast and sugar are added, this creates a second fermentation where carbon dioxide is released, and it is the CO2 that dissolves into the wine to make it bubble. The wine is then filtered to remove the yeast (no aging here) that pumped into bottles. The result is fresh, fruit style that is often slightly off-dry, and has a delicate fizz as lower pressure is created in a tank.

·         Champagne is from France, made from the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grape varieties and undergoes second fermentation in bottle. This means the wine is put into a bottle where more yeast and sugar are added, which is sealed and again a second fermentation takes place. CO2 dissolves in the wine, but to a greater extent because it is a smaller vessel, so you get more fizz. The other big difference here is that after the fermentation has finished the yeast is left in the bottle to help the wine age, which gives Champagne it’s characteristic brioche and biscuit notes. And then Champagne undergoes a lengthy riddling and disgorgment process to remove the yeast from the bottle while keeping the wine inside – the wine never leaves the bottle until you pour yourself a glass! This means we get a wine with more flavour, more bubbles, which is richer and more intense.

And while each is suitable to different occasions I know which one I prefer!

What about Champagne style wines?

Many other regions produce sparkling wines using the same method as Champagne, using often similar grape varieties. These vary in style and quality but a few popular wines would be:

·         Cava – made using Spanish grape varieties but same method, it’s aged for a shorter time so has a lighter, fruitier flavour. Also more budget friendly!

·         Cremant – the term used for a sparkling wine from France not made in Champagne. Grape varieties vary according to which regions, but these are also generally aged for a shorter time and also not as expensive as Champagne

·         English Sparkling Wine – if you are looking for the style that is most similar to Champagne this is it! Often using same grape varieties and same length of aging, many English vineyards also share a similar climate and soil type with Champagne. Definitely worth trying if you have not done so yet – best wines are similar in price to those from Champagne

·         Franciacorta – another sparkling wine from Italy, but this time from the Lombardy region, made using bottle fermentation and similar grape varieties to Champagne. Smaller production so not as easy to find but worth making the effort.

·         Cap Classique – the South African term for traditional method sparkling – often made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but with a warm climate twist – more fruit flavours and more spicy. (See also New Zealand, Australia, California, Argentina etc.)

So hopefully that’s given you a bit of a better understanding of the different styles, but of course there is always more to learn and more wine to try! If you fancy finding out more why not pop along to our Champagne and Sparkling wine tasting where we will cover all this and more!

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