The Difference Between Sparkling Wine and Champagne

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands and pull out a bottle of your finest sparkling wine to prove it! There is something about sparkling wine, Champagne in particular, that takes a party to a whole new level. But there are times where it's particularly necessary. New job? Pop the bubbly! Wedding? Sip, sip, hooray! Graduation? Keep pouring! Ringing in the New Year? Bring it on. In our opinion, there is not a wrong time to pull out a bottle. 

Because sparkling wine and Champagne play such vital parts in our lives, we wanted to dedicate some time to speak about them so they can play an important role in your life too! 

There’s One Major Difference

Some people believe that any sparkling wine is Champagne. We would love for you to politely and firmly shut down this conspiracy theory. All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. You see?!

Champagne is the most famous, most prestigious sparkling wine. It comes from the Champagne region of France, which we have a sneaky feeling might be the reason it is called Champagne. The delicious bubbly drink is made from Pinot Meunier grapes and is known for its small bubbles that create a delicious fruity taste that isn't always sweet. In fact, some people claim they taste notes of brioche along with that delightful effervescence. 

Why Is Champagne Usually More Expensive?

Champagne isn't made overnight. Instead, it is incredibly time-intensive and, therefore, expensive. Ironically, the harsh climate of Champagne is one of the reasons making Champagne is difficult. The process of making Champagne is the slowest and most costly way of making any kind of wine. 

Often, the winemaking process is made up of both a first and second fermentation in a process called the méthode champenoise, or the méthode traditionnelle (traditional method). This is a labor-intensive process that winemakers use to create that delicious fizz. But there is a second, less intense production method called the charmat method or the tank method that creates those bubbles for much less work and often, a lower price point.

What Do Sparkling Wines Taste Like?

Well, that depends! As we discussed above, there are a few different types of sparkling wines! There are actually five different main types of sparkling wines, and they differ mainly on where they are made. Most of them have high acidity, but all of them have bubbles! 

  • Champagne - As we discussed, Champagne is a type of sparkling wine! 
  • Prosecco - similar to Champagne, Prosecco was given its name from the village it originated in Prosecco. Dissimilar to Champagne, Prosecco is from Italy instead of France. Italian Prosecco is on the sweeter end of sparkling wines and is known for its large bubbles!  It's most often made from the Glera grape, which is famed throughout Italy.
  • Cava - At last, one sparkling wine that isn't directly named after the region it is from! Cava comes from a town in Spain called Catalonia. Often made with Chardonnay grapes, Cava is typically less sweet than Prosecco; Spanish Cava is filled with floral aromas and has a deliciously fresh and lemonade flavor.  
  • Sekt - Not sweet and not filled with alcohol, Sekt is a German wine made from Pinot Noir and Riesling grape varietals.
  • Rose is always flirty and always fun, Rose, the popular pink drink in a bubbly form. Sparkling rose comes from a variety of places, from Italy to California. A brut rose has just a hint of sugar. 

There are a few other kinds of sparkling wine, but these are not as popular and well known as those listed above. These include Spumante, Franciacorta, and Crémant, including multiple varieties like Crémant de Bourgogne and Crémant D'alsace. Regions that frequently produce sparkling wines include Burgundy, Veneto, and Sonoma, and Napa Valley. Yes, the United States can get in on this game too! 

Although you can now identify the main types of sparkling wine, we also know that standing in the wine aisle can be overwhelming. Why? Because each of the above wines has even more varieties, it can get very confusing! 

For sparkling wine, they are differentiated by their bottle's dryness level. Essentially, this is measured by the amount of residual sugar in grams per liter of wine. Is this starting to sound like a science experience? Don't worry; we've outlined it below! 

(Dry to sweet levels)

  • Demi-Sec: Drink this one with dessert because it is lovely! With up to 50 grams per liter of residual sugar, you can taste a noticeable change in sweetness. Sometimes ChampagneChampagne is produced in this sweetness; however, it is not very common. If you're feeling like giving it a try, might we suggest pairing it with some dark chocolate or strawberries? Or even better, chocolate-covered strawberries. A sparkling Moscato Asti wine from the Muscat grape might be labeled like this or a wine from the Loire Valley.
  • Extra Dry: Dry but not super dry; there is some residual sugar still left. An excellent example of a standard extra dry sparkling wine is the classic Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco. With 12-17 grams of sugar per liter, the hint of sweetness pairs deliciously with charcuterie. 
  • Brut: With less than 12 grams per liter of residual sugar, the touch of sugar in its brut nature is enough to keep you satisfied. This is the most popular form of sparkling wine, and it's no surprise that ChampagneChampagne is most commonly this dry variety. Pair a brut sparkling with a cheese plate for a delightfully good time! 
  • Extra Brut: The driest of them all with 0-6 grams of sugar per liter. Cava is the most popular type of wine that comes in this variation. This babe was made to be paired with the best foods, like sushi and french fries! 

Does Bubble Size Matter?

If you ask a champagne lover, the smaller the bubbles, the better the Champagne. In their minds, the more bubbles, the full-bodied taste, and more decadent aroma. 

The truth is that Champagne's bubbles are created when the Champagne goes through a secondary fermentation process that sparkling wine undergoes to become Champagne. This secondary fermentation process allows the wine to become Champagne and will enable it to become carbonated. As you likely already know, carbonation is the infusion of carbon dioxide into Champagne and therefore makes it fizzy! 

Enjoy Some Fizz With Your Wine

At Bev, we obviously have a soft spot for fizzy wine. Why? Because we make the fizziest wine out there! Bev is the only wine out there that was made SPECIFICALLY for being canned and it has absolutely everything to do with our now signature fizz. As soon as you crack open a can, you hear our bubbly fizz that just makes you realize how crisp and effervescent our girls are. 

Currently, we have five varieties and all of them are fizzy, and around 11.9% ABV per can. Even better, they only contain three carbs and 120 calories per can. And arguably, the most important part of all: they’re totally sugar free! So, what are you waiting for? Head to our store and purchase your variety pack to give it a try today!