Sparkling Wine Being Poured

Ever wondered why Champagne generally costs more than Prosecco? Or ” Is Prosecco a Type of Champagne” ( it’s not).  Both are sparkling wines, but what really sets these two sparkling wines apart? Let’s pop the cork on this question and pour out the details of the difference between Prosecco and Champagne.

( And yes…We also can discuss Cava, or Cremant sparkling wines! I am going to save that for another post 😉 )

Where It All Begins: The Birthplace

  • Champagne: It’s all in the name! Champagne comes exclusively from the Champagne region of France, 80 miles northeast of Paris. The area is dripping with history and prestige. Chardonnay is made from a trifecta of grape varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.
  • Prosecco: Take a trip to Veneto, Italy, near Treviso, 15 miles north of Venice, and you’ll find the home of Prosecco. This bubbly is primarily made from Glera grapes.

    Veneto, Italy is the “birthplace” of Prosecco.

How Prosecco Wine is Made

The production process of Prosecco wine involves a specific method known as the Charmat method.

The wine is then placed in a stainless steel tank, yeast and sugar are added, and a secondary fermentation takes place. This results in the wine’s characteristic bubbles. The wine is then filtered, bottled, and you have your Prosecco!

How Champagne is Made

 

The production of Champagne, however, is a more complex and time-consuming affair. The process, called the Méthode Champenoise, involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle itself. After the base wine is produced, a mixture of yeast and sugar, known as the liqueur de tirage, is added. The bottle is then sealed, and so the rest of the magic occurs in the bottle.

Champagne is produced using the Méthode Champenoise: a complex process involving secondary fermentation in the bottle itself.

The yeast consumes the sugar, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide (the bubbles!). After a period of aging, the sediment (dead yeast cells) is removed in a process called disgorgement, and the final product is topped off with a mixture of wine and sugar, the dosage.

Difference Between Prosecco and Champagne

The differences between Prosecco and Champagne are not just geographical or historical, but also in the way they are made, their taste, and their character. Prosecco, with its light-bodied, fruity and floral notes, and Champagne, with its rich, complex, and creamy profile, offer unique experiences to the palate.

The Taste Profile of Prosecco vs Champagne

  • Prosecco: Generally lighter, with notes of green apple, honeydew melon, pear, honeysuckle, and fresh cream.
  • Champagne: More complex, with flavors ranging from citrus and almond to brioche and vanilla, depending on the grapes used and the length of aging. Fine Champagne wines may also exhibit almond-like flavors with subtle notes of orange zest and white cherry.

Price Considerations: Why Champagne Costs More

  • Production Cost: The complex production of Champagne adds to its cost.
  • Perception and Demand: Champagne’s luxury perception commands higher prices, while Prosecco is seen as a value sparkler.

Food Pairing Suggestions for Champagne and Prosecco Wines

  • Champagne: Pairs with shellfish, raw bar, pickled vegetables, crispy fried appetizers, and even potato chips.
  • Prosecco: Goes well with cured meats, fruit-driven appetizers, and Asian cuisine like Pad Thai.

Will My Prosecco Stay Bubbly Overnight?

Yes and no! Prosecco, like other sparkling wines, will lose its bubbles if left uncorked overnight. If you’re looking to preserve the fizz, it’s best to use a champagne stopper specifically designed for sealing sparkling wines. Even with a good stopper, it may lose some effervescence, but it should remain reasonably bubbly if you plan to consume it the next day.
If the bottle is left open without a stopper, the bubbles will dissipate, and the Prosecco will become flat. It will still be safe to drink, but the sparkling quality that defines Prosecco will be lost.

What is prosecco?

Prosecco is a sparkling wine made primarily from the Glera grape in the Veneto region of Italy. Unlike champagne, which comes from the Champagne region of France, Prosecco is often lighter and fruitier in flavor.

Is prosecco dry or sweet?

Prosecco can be found in various sweetness levels, ranging from very dry to sweet. The sweetness is often indicated on the label, with terms like “Brut” (very dry), “Extra Dry” (off-dry), and “Dry” (slightly sweet).

Is prosecco a champagne or wine?

Prosecco is a type of sparkling wine, not champagne. While both are sparkling wines, the distinction comes from the region of production and the method used to create the bubbles. Champagne must be produced in the Champagne region of France, using a specific method, while Prosecco is typically made in Italy using a different fermentation process.

Will prosecco explode in a hot car?

Prosecco, like other sparkling wines, is under pressure due to the carbonation. If left in a hot car, the pressure inside the bottle can increase, potentially leading to the bottle breaking or the cork being forcibly ejected. It’s advisable to store Prosecco and other sparkling wines in a cool, stable environment to prevent such incidents.

Whether it’s the light and fruity character of Prosecco or the rich and creamy complexity of Champagne that entices you, understanding these distinctions can guide you to the perfect bottle for any occasion. In my opinion, for the great price point, Prosecco doesn’t disappoint and is usually my pick.  If you have a preference, let me know in the comments!

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