Sparkling Wine vs Champagne
Today, there is a lot of confusion when talking about sparkling wine vs champagne and the differences between them. If you go by taste, you will probably find very little differences between them. Why is that? Even though many champagne
enthusiasts will disagree, sparkling wine and champagne are basically the same thing. However, the differences in name and nomenclature is due to a technicality.
What's in a name?
When you get down to the basics, all champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are champagnes. The reason for this is that a sparkling wine can only be called a champagne when it is made in the Champagne region of France. Although similar in tastes, champagne is made in the same manner as other sparkling wines, but they only use grapes from vineyards from France. Champagne from the Champagne region is the most famous sparkling wine, but other wine regions produce sparkling wine that are very popular as well. Many have a taste that is very similar to champagne, but is generally sold at a lower price. This is also another reason for why they are popular.
When making sparkling wine or champagne, the process is the same. It starts first with the grapes being harvested and crushed, with the juice being collected. It is blended according to the specific recipe, and then is allowed to sit and ferment. This is the same as for any other wine. However, at this stage is where the differences between normal wine and sparkling wine start. The sparkling wine is placed into bottles and a mixture of yeast and sugar is added and the bottle is sealed. New fermentation, called secondary fermentation, is started, and this will produce bubbles of carbon dioxide in the mixture. Once the sugar is consumed by the yeast, fermentation now stops, a small amount of residue falls to the bottom, and the bottle is then placed on racks to age.
When aging, the bottle is shaken while being stored on the racks, which helps the residue to go to the neck of the bottle in a process called 'riddling'. Once suitably aged, the bottles are then frozen and the caps removed and the residue is removed. This process is termed 'disgorgement'. From here, the bottles are then filled with enough to add sweetness to the wine, and is then corked, labelled and shipped anywhere in the world. Cheaper versions of sparkling wine may forgo the fermentation in the bottle and only get bottled in the end.
So, if you are going to enter the age-old debate of sparkling wine vs. champagne, you must realise there is vey little difference between them. Sparkling wine is usually more popular in areas where actual champagne tends to be rare, as well as being a lot cheaper. However, there are many enthusiasts who insist that champagne is much more refined and is therefore preferable. If you are simply and average wine drinker, either variety will be appropriate for any sort of celebration.