Contrary to popular belief,sparkling wine and champagne are not the same thing. Oftentimes, the two terms are used interchangeably, but technically they cannot be used in such a way. Of course, champagne is a variety of sparkling wine, but when comparing the two it is important to note that there are some important key differences between a sparkling wine such as brut or prosecco and a true champagne. There are many restaurants out there that has a large wine menu like Gigi’s Hoxton.
The first and perhaps most well known difference between a sparkling wine and champagne is what is legally allowed to be called champagne in Europe. In the European Union, it is illegal to call a sparkling wine champagne unless it was produced in the champagne region of France. If a wine is produced outside of the region, it is illegal to label it as champagne and must be labelled as another variety of sparkling wine.
Another key difference between sparkling wine and authentic champagne is the time that it takes to produce each of them. Vintage champagne is usually aged for at least 3 years, whereas non-vintage champagne is aged for about 15-18 months. Producing sparkling wine such as prosecco takes a much shorter time to make. On average, prosecco must be aged for about 30 days minimum.
Due to the legality of producing authentic champagne as well as the time required to produce it, champagne is often much more expensive than other sparkling wines on the market. It might be more difficult to find an authentic champagne in your price range, but you will most likely be able to find many different varieties of sparkling wine that you enjoy and that you are able to purchase comfortably, no matter your budget.
Another key difference between wine and champagne is the grapes used to produce champagne. Traditionally, there are 3 varieties of grapes that are used to make champagne. Those grapes are chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. The latter 2 grapes are the only red grapes that are used to make champagne. All other grapes used are white grapes. For sparkling wine, however, there is a wider variety of grapes that are used to produce the wine such as riesling and glera, which is usually used to make prosecco. You may even be able to find a sparkling rose wine, which is produced with red wine grapes, but is often fermented for a shorter time than darker red wines such as pinot noir.
When looking at a variety of sparkling wines and champagne, you will find that the alcohol content of each is very similar to the other, around 12% ABV. Of course, this will vary from bottle to bottle and brand to brand, but on average, they all have a very similar alcohol content percentage. Another similarity between sparkling wine and champagne is that they all vary in sweetness. Sparkling wines range in sweetness from extra brut (extra dry) to doux, which is the sweetest category. Because of this, you are likely to be able to find a wine in your price range that will suit your tastes the best.