For many years now the amazing wines that come from the Champagne region have been admired and enjoyed by legions of fans. These stunning sparling white wines have become to go-to gift for special occasions, such as weddings and birthdays, in addition to garnering a reputation that makes it one of the single most famous varieties of wine in the entire world. In fact, if you ask a random person to name a type of wine, the odds are that Champagne is going to be pretty high on their list.
However, it is also important to remember that Champagne is not the only sparkling white around. In fact there is an important saying that says that all Champagnes are sparkling whites, but not all sparkling whites are Champagnes. As such, if you are truly searching for the best wine, it is important to know what you are looking for when it comes to your sparkling whites and, just as important, the differences between the likes of Prosecco and Champagne.
Here we will be taking a look at a few of the things that separate ‘Spumante’ – literally translated as Italian sparkling white wine – from Champagne in addition to looking at why both are mpst certainly worth the time of any connoisseur.
The first thing to note is that Prosecco and Champagne are not only made in two different regions, but actually come from two different countries.
Of course, we all know that Champagne is named after the Champagne region in France, which has gained all of its infamy on the back of its most famous product. The region is located around the city of Reims, which is about 80 miles northeast of Paris, should anybody be interested in paying the region a visit.
As for Prosecco, the wine comes from the Italian region of Veneto, which is responsible for some of the truly great Italian wines. The drink is primarily produced around the city of Treviso, which is located about 15 miles north of the famous city of Venice, meaning it is ideally located for a visit from wine fans who happen to be travelling through Italy.
To the uneducated tongue these two varieties of sparkling white wine can taste fairly similar, but they actually have many differences, one of which is the grapes used in their production.
Champagne tends to have a slightly more complex flavour than Prosecco, which can be put down to the fact that there are three grapes that are commonly used in its production. Many Champagnes will feature some combination of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pino Meunier grapes, though the volume of each used in the bottle will vary depending on the maker.
By contrast, Prosecco maintains a lighter and far simpler, yet still completely refreshing taste that is derived from a single grape. Formerly known as the Prosecco grape, for obvious reasons, the Glera grape has built its entire reputation of its use in Prosecco wines and it is capable of creating drinks that are truly astounding.
The production methods of both Champagne and Prosecco are fairly similar in the initial stages, with a base wine being created to which both sugar and yeast are added, but following that initial process they differ quite considerably.
Champagne is produced using a method known in some quarters as the ‘Tradional Method’, while others know it as the Méthode Champenoise. This sees the wine undergo its secondary fermentation inside a bottle, where it is aged for a certain period before being corked and made ready for consumption by the general public. It is a fairly costly production method and goes some way to explaining why the average bottle of Champagne will cost a little more than the average bottle of Prosecco.
Prosecco, on the other hand, undergoes secondary fermentation in a tank, where it will also be clarified and cooled. This method is cheaper than the Méthode Champenoise and also takes less time. However, some argue that this also affects the quality of the wine.
While this point is most certainly debatable, the general idea is that Champagne takes longer to produce than Prosecco and is created with a method that is fairly unique to the region, thus lending the drink its inimitable texture and taste.
Of course, the thing that most true wine lovers are always going to be concerned most about is the taste of the drink itself. There are many who would have you believe that Champagne tastes better than Prosecco by nature simply because of the production methods used, but this does an enormous disservice to the truly great Proseccos that are available and also fails to take into account the personal tastes of the drinker themselves.
A standard glass of Champagne will generally have somewhere in the region of 12% alcohol volume and contains a couple more calories than a standard glass of Prosecco. Because the drink is aged for a longer period of time, it is more heavily affected by the yeast used in fermentation, which gives the finer examples a taste reminiscent of toast or biscuits, which gives way to notes of almonds, white cherries and orange zest the longer it is aged in the bottle. This aging in the bottle also plays a part in the drinks sparkling qualities, as Champagne will generally have fine bubbles that lend the drink its sharp and refreshing taste, though you must be careful to serve the drink properly to ensure it maintains this zest.
Prosecco, on the other hand, is a much fruitier drink and is less complex than Champagne, which makes it perfect for a quick refresher or as an aperitif. Strong aromas of fruit and flowers will emanate from the drink and its bubbles will generally be lighter and a little frothier, which lends the drink its more refreshing taste. Proseccos often have notes of tropical fruits, vanilla and honeycomb, all of which combine to make a wonderful drink that can truly be consumed at any point of the day. However, it is best to avoid drinking Prosecco with particularly rich foods, such as red meats, as it will be quickly overpowered.