Is Champagne wine? Differences from sparkling wine
Is Champagne Wine?
Is Champagne wine? Yes. Champagne is made from a blend of grapes (typically Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) which are then fermented. Champagne can be made from a blend of different wines, and even often difference vintages – the exception being in the case of “vintage” champagne which is unsurprisingly comprised only of a single vintage. The wines then go through both a primary fermentation process and a secondary fementation process after added sugar and yeast to create the bubbly carbonization.
So the next time someone asks “Is Champagne Wine”? you can thrill them with your knowledge and answer that yes, in fact, it is.
What is the difference between champagne and sparkling wine?
This is a very frequent question, although the answer is relatively simple. In short, a sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France, just outside of Paris. In addition, there are other restrictions placed on wine classifying as Champagne – such as that it can only be made of a blend of three grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.
In summary, all champagne is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is a champagne. Champagne itself should be thought of as a geographical origin rather than a winemaking style.
What are other types of sparkling wine?
Winemakers in every corner of the world have seized on the popularity of Champagne (especially also the rising cost) and like sparkling wine from the Champagne region, other countries have developed their own equivalents.
In Spain, Cava comes in many different styles (with the best having smaller bubbles with a good balance of freshness). In Italy, Prosecco (specificially made in the Veneto region) have larger bubbles than their Spanish counterpart and are often known for having fruitier bouquets. In Germany (and to a lesser extent, Austria) their sparkling wines are known as Sekt (pronounced as zekt) – with sparkling wine producers taking off all around the world in both the New World and the Old World.
Is Rosé Champagne really champagne?
Originally developer in the 1950s in America for the consumer market who felt that Brut champagne was “too dry”, Rosé champagnes were a cheaper and sweeter version of the original.
In the 1990s however, Brut Rosé Champagnes came along. Produced by leaving the clear juice from black grapes to macerate on their skins for a brief period (the saignée method) or by adding a small amount of Pinot Noir red wine to the sparkling cuvée.
Since in the production of Champagne the juice is extracted using a process which minimizes the amount of time the juice spends in contact with skin (giving red wine it’s color…), champagne is known for it’s straw-like color. Rosé Champagne is one of the very few wines that allow for the production of rosé by the addition of a small quantity of red wines during the blending process to ensure a predictable and easily reproducible color – giving a constantly pure rose color between years and even decades of vintage production.
Rosé Champagne is therefore indeed champagne (although a subtype) – and is popular in many countries in the high-end food business due to it’s soft tastes, advantageous for food pairings.
What is the best kind of sparkling wine?
This question is a little like asking what is the best kind of fruit – it’s just up to personal taste. While Champagne has a reputation for being the ‘perfect’ kind of sparkling wine, this isn’t to say that a Champagne is inherently any better than a Prosecco or a Cava.
Fundamentally, the main thing that matters here is what you prefer the taste of. Different years, different vintages and different vineyards will produce an array of varieties even within a wine class (eg, Champagne) and it is absolutely possible for a given Prosecco (for example) to be higher rated by critics than a given Champagne.
In general, the requirements for a Champagne are amongst the most stringent in the wine world, which is why we have both consistency and class, and the generally perceived “better reputation” for champagnes over other wines – but this isn’t to say it’s the best.
So try a range and find out what you like the best, and for you, that’s the best kind of sparkling wine!