Wine vs Champagne: Differences Between the Two

Wine Vs. Champagne: What’s The Difference?

Wine and Champagne. Two of our favorite beverages. We love wine on an average day to day basis and love Champagne for the big life celebrations! From breakfast (hello, mimosas)to dinner, from spicier cuisines to a flavorful dessert and everything in between, sparkling wines play well and taste delicious with just about any type of dish. Plus, there is nothing better than popping some bubbles to celebrate!

Have you ever wondered why Champagne is known as the go-to celebratory drink? Well, we have your answer. In the 1780s, aka way back in the day, the bubbly celebratory drink symbolized status. It was most commonly associated with celebrations in European royal courts. Royalty loved Champagne. They loved its novelty and thought it had positive effects on women's beauty and men's wit. In the 19th century, Champagne became a worldwide phenomenon to commemorate joyous occasions like smashing bottles against a ship before its maiden voyage to throwing champagne glasses on the floor at Russian weddings. Now, we commonly use it to toast on New Year's Eve.

But what's the difference between wine and Champagne? Let's get into it!

Sparkling Wine Vs. Champagne

Here's the deal, all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Confused? Let's dive in. There are many different types of sparkling wine; the most common include Champagne, prosecco (from Italy), cava (a Spanish version), and sparkling wine from the USA. Champagne can only be called Champagne if it hails from the Champagne region of France. 

In addition to the location, Champagne is also only made with a few types of grapes, all of which are grown in the Champagne region. Although seven different grapes can be used, the most common include pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay. Varieties like Glera grapes on the other hand, tend to be used for Italian sparkling wines These grapes are typically blended together in order to create a unique body, complexity and aroma. This provides Champagne with a distinct, delicious taste and incredibly refreshing effervescence. 

Typically, sparkling wine is made from three grape varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier. If you see a bottle of Champagne or U.S. made sparkling wine that is, "blanc de Blancs," that means it's made exclusively from chardonnay grapes. On the other hand, if you see a Champagne or USA sparkling wine called "blanc de noirs," it's made solely from pinot noir grapes. 

Champagne and most sparkling wines are made using the same method, "method champenoise." This method has stringent guidelines that come from France. This traditional method involves creating the bubbles, or effervescence, in the bottle when it undergoes a second fermentation. This is an incredibly complex process, and it often forces the winemaker to handle each bottle a plethora of times. Prosecco and many other sparkling wines achieve their bubbles by having a secondary fermentation process in a giant tank of wine. This technique is known as the Charmat method or the tank method. The cheaper sparkling wines have carbon dioxide pumped into a giant steel tank, similar to how a soft drink is made, then get transferred into a bottle. 

White Wine vs. Champagne

Alright, let's break this down. Champagne is only Champagne if it comes from a particular region in France. However, if it is not made in that region and is a sparkling wine, it is essentially just white wine with carbon dioxide. All of this to say that still wine is essentially the same thing as sparkling wine without the fun. And by fun, we mean bubbles!

You Even Serve Them In Different Glasses

A Champagne glass is designed specifically to enhance drinking Champagne. The most common forms of champagne glasses are the flute and the coupe. For both, the stem allows the drinker to hold the glass without affecting the drink's temperature. Therefore, champagne glasses are also perfect for consuming other sparkling wines and some types of beers. 

Champagne can also be enjoyed in a standard wine glass. The perks of drinking Champagne in a regular wine glass allow you to enjoy your Champagne's flavor. However, the cons of this are that the bubbles are not accentuated to their full potential. 

When selecting the type of glass you want to drink Champagne from, keep in mind the number of bubbles you want! If you were to pour Champagne into a martini glass, you might notice all of your bubbles disappear! This doesn't mean your Champagne has gone flat because if you were to pour your Champagne into a flute, you would notice the bubbles would come roaring back! Needless to say, narrower glasses or flutes keep the bubbles the best. 

Do They Taste Different?

It depends on how much Champagne and sparkling wine you drink! The truth is, the two are very close in the taste itself. However, the difference might just be in the bubbles! Champagne is often lighter and more bubbly than sparkline wines. People tend to describe all kinds of tastes coming up in their champagne, from high acidity to fruity notes, and even layers of brioche or biscuit. Brut champagnes are drier, but you can also get sec, or sweet, versions. Additionally, some who drink Champagne and sparkling wine often are able to distinguish the two because they carry a taste from the region they derive. 

Which Is Right For You?

Some Champagnes can get ridiculously expensive. We're talking thousands of dollars (we're talking about you, Dom Perignon), especially when you start getting into the vintage/non-vintage discussion. But sparkline wine, in general, is relatively affordable. This all comes down to the grape quality and the methods used to produce the sparkling wine. While most sparkling wines implement the labor-intensive Méthode Champenoise Traditionalle, others cut costs to increase production and the number of products on the market. 

When you select a sparkling wine or Champagne, keep in mind what you want to get out of it. If it is quality and care, Champagne or a higher quality sparkling wine might be right for you. But if your budget is something you are concerned with, sparkline wine is excellent!