You probably know that two of the most well-known and common sparkling wines are prosecco and champagne. But do you know what’s the difference between the two? There is a lot to talk about when it comes to these flavorful wines.
Prosecco vs. champagne is a battle that has been going on for years. There are people who prefer only one of the two but others love them both and take advantage of the way they pair with foods. Whether you have a favorite one or not, let’s look into the differences between the two and see if one is better than the other!
Getting to Know Champagne First
Both prosecco and champagne are synonyms with celebration. Every good occasion requires a nice bottle of bubbly wine! But just like there are different varieties of wine without the sparkle, bubbly wines are different, too.
The main thing in the prosecco vs. champagne battle is the fact the types of grapes and the method used by winemakers define the taste and flavor profile. Although both of these wines seem similar, they are completely different. To understand that better, let’s look into the history of champagne and discuss some facts.
Key Takeaway: Although prosecco and champagne may seem similar at first glance, they are inherently different. Both have their specific flavor profiles, go with different foods, and are in a different price range.
Origin of Champagne
Most people know champagne as the name of a good sparkling wine. However, the name comes from the region in northeast France - Champagne. In this area, a few medieval monks discovered secondary fermentation by accident. Later, the English glassmakers found a way to make bottles strong enough to capture the fizz.
How Is Champagne Made?
Like any other type of wine, champagne is made of grapes. Traditionally, the wine is made of pinot meunier and pinot noir. The first step of the winemaking process is always fermentation, and for champagne, this is done just like for any other wine.
At the beginning stages, the two types of grapes are blended together. Then, sugar and yeast are added to the mixture. The liquid is transferred to bottles which are sealed with a crown cap. And then it comes the time for the magic!
The second fermentation begins when the yeast starts eating up the sugar and turning into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Because of the cap, the carbon dioxide can’t escape the bottles and it gets trapped inside. This is what makes the bubbles!
When the yeast reaction is done, the yeast dies off and settles into the neck of the bottle. There it goes through some more chemical changes, which is what creates some of the funkier characteristics of champagne. This is removed with a disgorging process and a special tincture is used to help with the sweetness of champagne.
One of the biggest differences in the prosecco vs. champagne debate is the characteristics. Champagne, depending on the grapes that were used, smells of red fruit and citrus with notes of biscuit. These lead to a round, refreshing, and creamy palate.
The outcome brings pleasure to the senses but to achieve the unique flavors and aromas, the process involves many steps. This, of course, adds to the price tag.
Let’s Talk about Prosecco
If you have read our article on the history of prosecco, you already know that this type of wine is made of grapes called Glera. This specific grape type is abundant in an Italian region, near a small town called Prosecco. This is where the wine was first produced and where it got its name.
Prosecco is a light and fresh sparkling wine with fruit and white flower flavors and aromas. It has an ABV of around 12%. An interesting fact is that the alcoholic content battle between prosecco vs. champagne is won by the latter. Champagne has an ABV of 12.2%!
Let the Battle Begin: Prosecco vs. Champagne
After getting to know champagne and recapping the most important information from the prosecco history article we have on the blog, it’s time to have a face-to-face prosecco vs. champagne battle.
Region of Origin
As already mentioned, champagne was created in a region of France. Prosecco, on the other hand, was first made in Italy. The unique climate of both areas, as well as the soil, play a huge role. The types of grapes that grow in each region are different and they are what makes these two sparkling wines have completely different characteristics.
Speaking of grapes, Champagne is mostly made of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. Producers would typically use a blend of different grape varieties, instead of just one. Prosecco, however, is primarily made of Glera grapes. It can be blended with other local grape types.
Methods of Production
Champagne, as we already talked about in previous paragraphs, is made using the Traditional Method, which involves secondary fermentation in a bottle. Processo is made similarly, but the second fermentation is done in a pressurized tank before the drink is transferred into bottles.
Here is where it gets tricky to choose a winner from the prosecco vs. champagne battle. The flavor profiles of these wines are different and not comparable. Champagne is complex, toasty, and has a yeasty flavor. It often has citrus and green apple notes. It’s typically drier and more acidic. Prosecco is fruitier than champagne, with pear and floral notes. It’s lighter and less yeasty but has a slightly sweeter taste.
Can’t talk about prosecco vs. champagne without mentioning their bubbles. Champagne is known for its fine and persistent bubbles, which are the result of the second fermentation in the bottle. The difference in the prosecco bubbles is that they are larger and frothier.
Champagne can range from very dry to sweet. Brut (the very dry type) is more common than the Demi-Sec, which is the sweet kind. Prosecco is available in a range of sweetness levels, including Brut (dry), Extra Dry (off-dry), and Dry (sweeter). Extra Dry is the most common style.
Champagne has been the most popular type of sparkling wine for many years. It’s a more expensive sparkling wine than prosecco because of the production method and aging requirements. Prosecco is more affordable and accessible, which is why in recent years it’s surpassed champagne in popularity.
Frequently Asked Questions about Prosecco vs. Champagne
Have a few questions? Here are some answers!
What Food Pairs Well With Prosecco?
Prosecco pairs well with seafood dishes, light pasta dishes, and salads, as well as fruit, cheese, and Asian cuisine. Light desserts are also a great prosecco pairing. Don’t forget all the brunch options, too.
Can You Make Cocktails with Champagne?
You can make cocktails with champagne, just the way you can make delicious prosecco cocktails. Mimosa, Bellini, and French 75 are just of few of the options to try!
Should I Serve Both Prosecco and Champagne at My Restaurant?
Depending on your budget, the concept of your restaurant, and the food served, you can choose one of the two types of sparkling wine or decide to go for both. If you serve the two, you will have a richer wine list, which will appeal to wine enthusiasts.