Sparkling Wine vs. Champagne – What’s the Difference?

sparkling wine vs champagne

With so many different types of wines and so many different wine regions, sometimes it’s hard to grasp the difference between them. One type of wine that people often get confused about is sparkling wine vs champagne.

Sparkling wine and champagne are very similar in the way they are grown and produced, but there are some differences that you may not be aware of. Most people will tell you the only difference between the two is the region they are grown, but that’s not always the case.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that make sparkling wine and champagne different.

What Makes Sparkling Wine Different From Champagne?

The Region

The main difference you’ll hear most people talk about when it comes to sparkling wine vs. champagne is that it can only be called champagne if it’s made in the town of Champagne in France.

That is correct. Any champagne that you buy, that is labeled champagne, was produced in the town of Champagne, France and nowhere else. Any sparking wine produced outside of this town cannot be called champagne and must be called a sparkling wine.

With that in mind, all Champagnes are technically sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagnes.

The Grapes

Champagne from France uses grapes that are more commonly found in the region, which makes sense. Chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot Meunier grapes are most often the grapes used in traditional champagne.

These grapes don’t have to be used to create a sparkling wine, but because they grow so well in France, they are what you would typically find in a true Champagne.

Sparkling wine, however, uses a larger variety of grape varieties since it can be produced anywhere outside of the Champagne region of France.

Because of this you’ll find sparkling wines produced with grapes like Riesling, Pinot Gris, Glera, Macabeao, and others. You’ll also often times find sparkling wines made with a combination of different grapes to create more interesting flavor notes.

Wine Production

When it comes to making sparkling wine there are a couple different methods that can be used. There is a traditional method and then the Charmat method.

Champagne typically sticks to the traditional method of production which only differs slightly but maintains that old-world feeling.

In the traditional method, the initial fermentation process takes place in a large tank, but the wine is then transferred into individual bottles for the 2nd fermentation process. Once the 2nd fermentation process is complete the wine is aged for 15 months before it goes through a process called riddling to remove remaining yeast, seeds, and other ingredients from the mixture.  It is then aged one more time before being sold to consumers.

Sparkling wines can be produced using the method above, or the Charmat method. The Charmat method is very similar to the traditional method, but instead of having the 2nd fermentation process take place in bottles, it takes place in a stainless steel tank. After the 2nd fermentation process the wine is cooled and filtered to remove the extra yeast and other ingredients before being stored in a 3rd tank where sugars are added. After this process is complete the sparkling wine is bottled and sold.

Taste – Champagne vs. Sparkling Wine

The big question that everyone has though is whether actual champagne tastes better than sparkling wine. And the answer to that question isn’t so simple.

It all comes down to preference.

Champagne tends to have a more full-bodied flavor profile than sparkling wines, due to the aging process, while sparkling wine tends to be a bit sweeter and fruitier tasting.

If you gravitate more towards the dry wines then you’ll probably prefer Champagne, while those that like a fruitier, sweeter wine, will probably enjoy a sparkling wine better.

Champagne vs. Sparkling Wine

As with all wine, it comes down to what you like. Not everyone likes the taste of champagne, or the bubbles associated with it, and not everyone likes the sweet, fruitiness that tends to come with sparkling wines.

Since we are obviously not located in Champagne, France, we cannot call our Treana Blanc de Blancs a Champagne, but our first sparkling wine is definitely one you’re going to want to try.

The Treana Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine uses the traditional method of production and features notes of citrus and green apple. This is the perfect wine to toast with during the holiday season or during your next celebratory event.

Remember, just because it’s sparkling wine and not Champagne doesn’t mean that it’s going to be any less delicious. Take the time to do a few tastings of different types of sparkling wines to help determine which one meets your flavor needs. If you’re a wine drinker like us, then you should have no problem finding a sparkling wine that you enjoy… even if it’s not from France.