Top 5 difference between sparkling wine and champagne
The most pivotal difference between sparkling wine and champagne is where they come from. Champagne is named after the town of Champagne in France. So technically, only wines made in the town of Champagne, can be called as Champagnes.
Sparkling wine, on the other hand, is carbonated wine that is made in any other region around the world, excluding Champagne.
So, suffice to say that all Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagnes. Both of these types of wines are infused with carbon dioxide to make them bubblier.
Types of grape varieties used
The second difference between the two wine types are the type of grapes used to make them.
Champagne manufacturers use grape varieties that are commonly found in the Champagne region of France. This typically includes Chardonnay grapes, Pinot Noir grapes and Pinot Meunier grapes.
But sparkling wines can be made from various other varieties of grapes – sometimes a combination of two or more grape varieties. This could include varieties like Glera grapes, Riesling grapes, Pinot Gris grapes, Parellada grapes, Macabeao grapes, Subirat grapes and more.
Wine making process
The way the wine is made also differs between sparkling wine and Champagne. Let’s start with how Champagne is made.
Champagnes still follow a wine making process that is considered to be the methode traditionelle (the traditional method) outside of the region. In the town of Champagne, this method is called the methode champenoise. Here, after the first round of fermentation is over in the tank where the large quantity of Champagne is stored, the drink is shifted into the individual bottles in which the Champagne will be sold. Yeast and sugars are added to these bottles for a second fermentation process.
After the wine is re-fermented, it is allowed to age for about 15 months to customize the body, texture and flavor profile of the drink. Then, processes called riddling and disgorging are used to remove the lees (a combination of yeast, grape seeds, tartrates and other leftover ingredients) from the wine. Then the Champagne is aged once again, depending on what type of Champagne it is and then it is sold.
Sparkling wine is usually made in one of two processes – the methode traditionelle or the Charmat method. We have already explained the traditional method. So, let’s look at the Charmat method. In this process, after the initial fermentation stage, the sparkling wine is moved to another stainless steel pressure tank for a second round of fermentation that takes between 1 & 6 weeks depending on the type of sparkling wine being made.
This fermentation is stopped by cooling down the sparkling wine and filtering it to remove the yeast and lees. If a sweet sparkling wine is being made, it will be stored in a third tank, where more sugar will be added to the wine. This will then be filled in the bottles and sold. The processes of riddling and disgorging will not be used here, since the filtration is already done after the fermentation process.
Since Champagnes are aged for a much longer period of time compared to other sparkling wines, they tend to taste more full-bodied, complex and sophisticated. If you’re drinking Champagne – whether its alcoholic or alcohol free Champagne – you’ll find that they taste more nutty, biscuity or toasty. Additionally, the texture of the drink itself can range from dry to semi-dry to sweet. This is because of the aging process.
On the other hand, since both alcoholic and non-alcoholic sparkling wines have a very short aging time, they still retain the fruity, floral and spicy notes of the ingredients used to make them. Plus, they will typically be sweeter than Champagnes.
Champagne making is both time and labor intensive. Plus, the regulations that Champagne makers must adhere to, are more nuanced than other wine makers. Finally, the long aging process of Champagne adds to the flavor profile and texture of the drink, with longer aging periods costing higher. These are a few reasons why Champagne is more expensive than sparkling wines.
It is only in the case of non-vintage Champagne, where reserve Champagnes are mixed with new harvest wines, where there is little to no price gap between Champagnes and sparkling wines.
Typically, the cost of Champagne can go into the hundreds of dollars and up to as high as $49,000 (as in the case of the Dom Pérignon Rose Gold). Sparkling wines, on the other hand, can range from anywhere between $30 and a few hundred dollars.
When it comes to alcohol free sparkling wines, these beverages can range from as little as $7 per bottle and can go up to $85-$90 per bottle – making them suitable for every budget.
Which alcohol free drink is better: Sparkling wine vs Champagne?
Whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, the choice between sparkling wine and champagne depends on your personal preference. Now that you know the difference between sparkling wine and champagne, consider the following criteria:
- Do you prefer your wine to be aged?
- Does the wine’s authenticity from the Champagne region matter to you?
- What flavor do you prefer your wine to have?
- What texture would you enjoy most?
- What is your budget for a bottle of wine?
- Is this a one-time purchase or will this be a long-term inclusion in your purchases?
- Are you allergic to any ingredients used in either Sparkling wine or Champagne?
As you answer these questions, you’ll automatically know what wine type you’d prefer. At the end of the day, choose a wine that you know you’ll enjoy drinking, rather than selecting one for its pedigree, price or prestige.
Get alcohol free champagne and sparkling wine at Better Rhodes
Even if you don’t like alcoholic wines, you don’t have to swear off Champagnes and sparkling wines forever. You can always purchase the alcohol free or dealcoholized wines we sell at Better Rhodes. They’re made using sustainably sourced organic ingredients and are created with great care. Our non-alcoholic Champagnes and sparkling wines are available in various flavors and textures. Visit our website to take a look at our extensive selection.