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Champagne v. Prosecco v. Sparkling Wine

Champagne v. Prosecco v. Sparkling Wine

There really isn’t another wine (or beverage) that is as synonymous with celebrations as Bubbles. “Hey, my kid got straight A’s!” (cork popping sound). The Cavs broke the Cleveland Championship drought! (MANY corks popping). So what better time of year than to indulge in some Bubbles than the holidays?

There’s a common confusion in the Bubbles universe that they are all the same. That Champagne is synonymous with Prosecco and all Sparking Wines. Here, in time for the holidays, we’re demystifying Bubbles!

While true Champagne ( the stuff made in the Champagne region in France) is a ‘sparkling wine’ not all sparkling wine is Champagne.

Bottle and Glass of Perrier JouetIn the chalky and picturesque hills of Champagne, the wine there is made from three classic grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and in lesser quantities, Pinot Meunier. The time-consuming, but winemaking thumbprint that truly sets Champagne apart is the process by which these wines are made. The Methode Champenoise is essentially what gives Champagne not only its backbone, but the bubbles as well. A secondary fermentation in the bottle produces tiny amounts of carbon dioxide which dissipate into the wine, creating the ‘sparkle’ that continues to launch millions of corks.

The Methode Champenoise is now used in many parts of the world, where countries like the US, Italy, Spain and —get ready for this — Great Britain, use the traditional method (and in most instances, the same grapes) to produce wines that are not permitted to be ‘Champagne’ but they are nonetheless, superb examples of Sparkling Wine.

I’d be remiss not to mention what is sometimes called the “Bubbles gateway drink” – Prosecco. The popularity of this fun, uncomplicated and utterly drinkable fizz from Northern Italy is created by a process that injects the bubbles into the wine. This economical approach means that Prosecco is usually as inexpensive as it is tasty, and has turned on a new generation to the joy of fizz.

Single Glass of ChampagneSo, what should you eat to accompany your Bubbles? Frankly, I can make the argument that any food is made more delicious when paired with a Sparkler, but there is also a guideline that is my personal ‘Bubbles Mantra’ – the best friends of Sparkling Wine are fat and salt! Imagine the crisp and bright notes of Bubbles cutting through a mouth-coating piece of cheese, while the salty notes bring out the subtle complexities found in the wine. Please don’t limit yourself to just cheese though! Seafood, pasta dishes, charcuterie and poultry are particularly well-suited to make beautiful music with Bubbles, so explore, taste and enjoy! And, while the holidays are a time of celebration, which lends itself well to sparkling wines, these fizzy favorites aren’t just for celebrations. Enjoy them all year long!

Check out my favorite prosecco recommendation.


Ed Thompkins

By Ed Thompkins

Ed Thompkins brings over 30 years of experience in wine and beer purchasing, events and tasting initiatives to Heinen's. He is passionate about making wine fun and easy to understand and shares his experiences and knowledge with frequent tastings and events for Heinen’s customers. While respecting the past, Ed’s enthusiasm for discovering new and exciting wines and applications offers fresh perspective that wine experts and novices alike can enjoy.

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