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Champagne Vs. Prosecco - What's the Difference?

You'll find both Champagne and Prosecco in the sparkling wine section of wine stores. While both are sparklers, why is there such a big price difference? Moreover, what's the difference in terms of flavor? Let's find out more about these two from the following Buzzle article.
Champagne vs. proseco
Did You Know?
It's estimated that a single bottle of Champagne contains more than 49 million bubbles. The more and tinier the bubbles, the higher will be its quality.

The vinous world can be a confusing one, and with so many variations like sparkling wines, icewines, dessert wines, etc., being flaunted around, a wine novice can easily find himself getting lost in this big world of wine jargons. We're all familiar with the bubbly Champagne that is popped at joyous occasions. Then again, we're also familiar with the New World bubblies, like Prosecco, Cava, Cremant, etc., which line the shelves of wine stores.

These New World sparklers are increasing in popularity at a rapid rate. It so happens that these sparklers have overshot champagne in both value and volume of sales. Bottles and bottles of sparklers are being popped and served as aperitifs across the world. While both Champagne and Prosecco are sparkling wines, they do have their differences. Let's take a look at what these differences are.

Champagne Vs. Prosecco

Parameters Champagne Prosecco
Region France Italy
Preparation Method Champenoise Charmat
Price Expensive Affordable
Grape Variety Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier Glera
Flavor Profile Rich and Complex Fresh and Light
Shelf Life (Unopened) 3 - 4 years 6 months to 1 year
Alcohol 11 - 12 % 12.5 - 13.5%

Differences Explained

French Vs. Italian

What differentiates them big time is the region where they are prepared. Champagne is produced in the Champagne region of France, while Prosecco is produced in the Veneto region of Italy. The particular region where wine is prepared is of great significance, because the quality of a wine is marked by the quality of the soil, climate, and various other factors that are unique for a particular region. Therefore, although both are effervescent wines, they are different because of the different regions they hail from. Moreover, both the names are protected and cannot be used for wine prepared anywhere else.

Champenoise Vs. Charmat Method

Both Champagne and Prosecco undergo a double fermentation process for fizz formation; however, they do have their differences. Our French sparkler is produced using a labor-intensive method known as Method Champenoise. In this method, the second fermentation required to add fizz to the wine is done inside the bottle. The wine is filled into bottles, a mixture of sugar and yeast is added, and then the bottle is capped to trap the carbon dioxide bubbles. The bottles are allowed to ferment for months (minimum 18 months) or even years for vintage ones. Italian bubbly makers, on the other hand, carry out the second fermentation process in large steel tanks that yield sparkling wines with a fruitier aroma. The sparkler is aged for only 4 to 5 weeks.

Expensive Vs. Affordable

Champagne is well-known for its wallet-ripping ability! It's very expensive, which is why it's considered the drink of the glamorous sect. You will really have to struggle to find a bottle under $50 (we're talking about true 'Champagne' and not sparklers that hail from other regions, but yet labeled so). On the other hand, a decent Prosecco is available at around $20, and the fine ones are easily available under $30. Because it has been fermented in steel tanks or vats, unlike the bottles used in France, and due to the shorter aging process involved, the cost of production is lower, thereby, enabling the manufacturers to sell them at a cheaper price.

Chardonnay and Pinots Vs. Glera

Champagne is mostly made from a blend of three types of grapes: Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red), and Pinot Meunier (red). However, it can also be made from just one or a combination of any two grape varieties. Our French Pinot Noir gives the wine its body and structure, the white Chardonnay adds finesse and freshness, while Pinot Meunier imparts the lovely fruitiness to this effervescent. The Italian sparkler, on the other hand, is made from Glera grapes, a white grape variety from northeast Italy. Because it's made from one grape type, it is called a varietal. However, as per regulations, 15% of another approved grape variety can also be included.

Complex Vs. Light

Champagne has always been loved for its rich flavor and complex aromas. This French effervescent wine is high in acidic content and number of bubbles. Fruity on the palate with flavors of citrus, apple, pear, etc., it is available in different levels of sweetness from Brut, Extra Brut, Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux. Prosecco, on the other hand, is bright and fresh on the palate, but slightly dryer than a Champagne, with citrusy notes and primary fruity aromas of pears, apples, apricots, and peaches. It's also lower in alcohol and acid content as compared to the French sparkler. It's slightly sweeter, and depending on the residual sugar content, this varietal is labeled as dry, extra dry, brut, or extra brut.

Celebrations Vs. Casual

The Italians open a bottle of their sparkler at any and every occasion. Moreover, on a general note, they prefer to drink it chilled during the hot summer months. In other parts of the world, this Italian bubbly is enjoyed as an aperitif, especially before a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. The French, on the other hand, prefer to have their exquisite sparkler all through the year, irrespective of the season. However, because of its steep price, it is often confined to celebrations and festive occasions. So, while the Italian sparkler is more of a common man's drink, the French effervescent pertains mostly to the rich and famous!

Since Prosecco is way cheaper, it's a good alternative to Champagne, especially when you have a large number of people to serve. If it's a special occasion like a wedding or any other joyous occasion, and you really want to celebrate, then nothing beats a true Champagne, which is marked by elegance and finesse!
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Published: December 18, 2013
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