If you have been following us, you know that recently we officially kicked off our first wine club and our theme was sparkling wine or Champagne. This theme was a great first choice as there are many options and it allowed our wine club members to have a broad choice in what each member brought to share. However, Champagne and/or sparkling wine can be somewhat complicated to navigate. We have provided a very general breakdown of the differences of Champagne vs sparkling wine as well as the various types that you will see in the store.
The difference between Champagne and Sparkling Wine
Champagne: Champagne is sparkling wine, but to be considered Champagne, it must be produced in the Champagne region of France. Simple as that!
Sparkling Wine: Any and all other sparkling wines that are not produced in the Champagne region. Sparkling wine is produced by not allowing the CO2 to escape during the fermentation process of the wine. We won't get into any more detail than that to keep it brief. Besides…we aren't chemists.
So that should be it, right? Of course not! We all know that wine, no matter the type, is always more complicated and provides us all with a lovely array of choices. It would make life so much more boring if we didn't have choices! So here are some types of sparkling wine you may see while you are shopping for that perfect bottle of bubbly. Again, we are going to keep this simple because not everyone wants to read pages about wine like we do.
Asti: A sparkling white wine that is produced in North Western Italy. It is usually semi-dry and produced from Moscato grapes. Moscato d'Asti is a relative of Asti, but is produced in a different zone near the Asti region and tends to be sweeter.
Prosecco: A sparkling white wine that is produced in Italy near the Veneto region. Some can be sweet, but more are found to be dry.
Cava: A sparkling wine that is produced in various areas of Spain; many Cavas are produced in North East Spain.
Extra Dry or Brut: In addition to the various types of wines, you may see the same brand of sparkling wine labeled with a secondary type such as extra dry or brut. Below is brief explanation of those various types:
Rose: Produced through blending a base white wine with a red wine before a second fermentation OR produced through using only red grapes and allowing the base wine to soak up the color from "bleeding" the skins – Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, etc can all be produced as a Rose; it really just depends on the process and/or the grapes used during the production.
Extra Brut – extra dry
Brut - dry
Extra dry – dry, but less dry than a brut
Really the dry taste is based on the sugar content of the wine. The higher the sugar content, the sweeter the wine; Extra dry wines will have less sugar content than a Brut and so forth.
Hopefully, this is simple enough to help you navigate your next Sparkling Wine or Champagne purchase with a little bit more confidence. You don't need to be an expert, but you can make it fun and try different types to see what you prefer. Keep following our wine club experience to see what we thought of the four different sparkling wines we encountered.