The debate on ‘Champagne vs Sparkling Wine’ remains popular with many people getting confused about the bubbles and the famously dramatic popping sound of their bottles.
This brings us to the confusing question- is champagne a kind of wine and if so, how is it different from sparkling wine? The answer is ‘yes’ to both, and to say that ‘all champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne’ wouldn’t be wrong at all.
To explain it further in simple terms, both are wines, but sparkling wine can only be called ‘champagne’ if it is fermented and bottled exclusively in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine can be produced anywhere in the world, but champagne bears an exclusive geographical tag.
Furthermore, both champagne and sparkling wines, are made from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. But the distinctiveness of champagne also depends upon the unique flavour of the grapes used in the production process. Also, the distinguished flavour of the grapes can be attributed to the mild climes and the mineral-rich soils in which they are grown, only a handful of grape variety is used in making the cuvée. The Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) stringently controls the process of making champagne.
Champagne can be categorized as vintage and non-vintage based on the fact, whether the grape variety used is of one year’s harvest or a mixed variety from different years. The flavours of sparkling wines and champagne range from dry to very sweet and classified as brut, extra dry or extra sec, sec, demi-sec and doux. The taste of ageing champagne is nutty and toasty, whereas sparkling wine tastes fresh and fruity but not necessarily sweet.
A brief overview of where do the famous bubbles come from-
There are three main wine-making processes, namely the tank method which is also known as the Charmat method, carbonated method and the traditional method which is also known as “Methode Champenoise”. Champagne is made by using the ‘Methode Champenoise’. It is through the initiation of the secondary fermentation process of any base wine which gives it the crispness and tartness.
When the wine is fermented in closed and sealed containers, it prevents the gas or CO2 from escaping, thus resulting in releasing in the form of tiny bubbles.
Additionally, the high acidity content of the grapes either white or red is also a determining factor of the crispness. The process of carbonation makes the trademark dancing bubbles and the smaller bubbles are a hallmark of the fine sparkling wine or champagne.
So, the next when you pop open the versatile bubbly and splurge on the divine golden drink to celebrate the special occasions, remember it’s more than about the bubbles, and do not let the labels fool you!