The Difference Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine

the-difference-between-champagne-and-sparkling-wineCould you, if put on the spot, tell the difference between champagne and sparkling wine? If not, the difference between the two could be far more intuitive than you realize.

Differences Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine 

Champagne is a type of sparkling wine that comes from the Champaign region of France. That’s really the chief difference between champagne and sparkling wine – champagne comes exclusively from the Champagne wine region.

Secondary Fermentation Vs. Carbon Dioxide Injection.  There are some other differences, though.  Champagne usually gains its fizzy properties from a natural process known as secondary fermentation.

With sparkling wine, contrastingly, you sometimes will get carbonation through a man-made process of carbon dioxide injection. There’s nothing intrinsically dangerous about carbon dioxide or injecting it into drinks – that’s how most sodas get their zing!

There’s actually more to the differences between champagne and sparkling wine that this processes of secondary fermentation (champagne) or carbon dioxide injection (sparkling wine).

Appellation Rules and Grapes.  The appellation – the geographical marker that designates the region in which the grapes were grown and harvested – of champagne differs from sparkling wine in a few important ways.

Champagne often uses pinot meunier (black wine grapes) or pinot noir (red wine grapes) to ultimately produce champagne. Green-skinned chardonnay grapes from the Champagne region of France are also sometimes used to make champagne.

The champagne in the Champagne region of France has been associated with France’s aristocracy for over four hundred years. In fact, appellation rules and labeling are taken very seriously and it’s illegal to falsely claim that your champagne derives from the Champagne region of France when it, in fact, does not.

Advantages of Sparkling Wine: Variety and Flavor.  A good way to think about the difference between champagne and sparkling wine is to say that all champagne is sparkling wine whereas not all sparkling wine derives from the Champagne region and can therefore be called champagne.

In many ways you could actually get more variety from sparkling wine than you can from champagne since sparkling wines are created around the globe. Austria, for instance, is a leader of high-end sparkling wines.

Flavor.  In terms of the flavors that champagne and sparkling wine offer, some people believe champagne has more of a creamy, nutty flavor whereas sparkling wine can have more of a fruity kick.

Price and Pairings.  Sparkling wine tends to be more affordably priced and more versatile in terms of pairings and the array of foods that go well with sparkling wine.

Cava (spanish wine) and prosecco (sparkling white wine) tend to be some of the more versatile kinds of sparkling wine. They go great with richer desserts as well as spicier entrees.

Recap of Differences 

Summing up, the chief difference between champagne and sparkling wine is that the former comes exclusively from the champagne region of France.

Sometimes sparkling wine is given its fizzy properties from a process known as carbon dioxide injection whereas champagne usually goes through secondary fermentation to get its bubbly qualities.

Sparkling wine comes from all around the world and has a greater versatility when it comes to the time of day in which it can be sipped and the food that it can be paired with.

What to Know When Buying a Champagne Refrigerator

what-to-know-when-buying-a-champagne-refrigerator

Champagne, the “sparkling wine,” was meant to be served chilled. Proper etiquette calls for keeping it, and serving it, at just the right temperature. This is key to ensuring each glass of champagne served may be an experience of bubbly vivacity.

Champagne Etiquette

When toasting a special occasion or event, champagne is the correct choice. Choose the right glass, as well–champagne should be served in a fluted glass, to concentrate the flavors and encourage a healthy flow of bubbles. Before serving, champagne should be chilled: traditional or vintage champagnes, like the original French, should be chilled to a temperature between 39 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, while non-vintage, and sweeter interpretations should be chilled to around 46 or 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t forget to pour correctly. Champagne tends to be fizzy, and even foamy if you’re not careful. Start by pouring just a little bit in your guest’s glass, let the bubbles settle, then fill the glass about two thirds full.

Keep the bubbly cold. A bottle chilled in a bucket filled halfway with ice, and half way with icy water for about twenty minutes prior to serving is the traditional way to chill most wines. The desired temperature can also be attained by placing the bottle in the freezer for about fifteen minutes, or for a couple hours in the refrigerator. But to achieve the best results, using an actual wine refrigerator is the perfect choice in techniques.

Choosing the Best Refrigerator

This will be the end result of a combination of your needs and tastes.

  • Determine what your bottle count is going to be. Do you serve champagne, or other wines frequently? If not, a smaller size will be preferable.
  • Is your wine cooler meant to make a statement? There are some very sexy wine refrigerators on the market today–some even feature ambient lighting, while others are very elegant, and mimic wood furniture.
  • Some refrigerators come with dual temperature zones, giving you options for different genres and flavors.
  • If you are remodeling, choosing your champagne refrigerator early will allow you to incorporate it into the new design, especially if you want the “built-in” look.
  • Know whether you are buying a thermoelectric or a compressor-based wine cooler. Most smaller coolers employ a thermoelectric system; these create less vibrations, resulting in fewer disturbances to your stock. Compressor-based coolers are more like a normal refrigerator, and are more ideal for larger coolers.
  • Choose a wine cooler that’s easy to clean.

Having the best champagne refrigerator will allow you to enjoy a bottle of bubbly anytime it suits you. Consider your needs and preferences before you buy, and remember you always get what you pay for–don’t go cheap, buy the best you can afford, and familiarize yourself with whatever model you have chosen. Champagne was meant to make spirits bright, and keeping it perfectly chilled  is the secret its success.