Champagne and Prosecco are both sparkling wines that are typically consumed during celebrations and festivities. Most often, both wines are perceived interchangeably but there are actually a lot more differences than similarities between the two.
Should you purchase Champagne or Prosecco for your next dinner party or maybe for New Year’s Eve? Well, here is everything you need to know about the similarities and differences between these two sparkling wines so you can make an informed decision.
What are the Similarities Between Champagne and Prosecco?
Before we talk about the differences between the two sparkling wines, let’s first discuss their similarities.
Champagne and Prosecco are both sparkling wines. They are both carbonated drinks that go through a secondary fermentation, and thus, creating bubbles.
Both sparkling wines also come from certain regions in Europe and are strictly regulated in terms of their label usage. Both wines are often consumed in celebrations and parties, and are best served in a flute glass, and must be well-chilled.
Despite these similarities, both wines are actually quite different. To better understand what makes them different from the other, let’s discuss the many aspects of each wine that make them distinct.
Champagne vs Prosecco
- Grape Variety Used
Champagne uses a combination, blend, or individual grapes of the following: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Chardonnay is a green grape that originates in the Burgundy region of France and is commonly found in white wine. Pinot Noir, on the other hand, is a thin-skinned black grape most commonly used in red wines. And lastly, Pinot Meunier is a black grape that is credited for giving Champagne its richness.
Prosecco, in the meantime, only uses Glera grapes. For Prosecco to be called such, it needs to have at least 85% Glera grape content. Glera grapes are thin-skinned green grapes that have moderately high acidity. The rest of the 15% of the wine can be made of Chardonnay to Pinot Grigio grapes.
Champagne is grown in the Champagne region of France, while Prosecco is grown and produced in Veneto, Northern Italy. Champagne can also be labeled as such when the grapes are grown in the Champagne region, and the wine is produced in the area as well.
Prosecco is also only labeled as such if the grapes used in the wine are grown and produced in Veneto, Italy.
Champagne, France has a much more northerly climate and the grapes tend to ripen with higher acidity. Veneto is also cooler than most Italian regions, and this climate helps to produce crisp and delicious sparkling wines.
- Methods of Prosecco
How each wine is produced is completely different from the other. Once the base wine is made, these wines go through a second fermentation process. And this is where Champagne and Prosecco differ greatly. The second fermentation process is done to create the carbon dioxide needed to make them into sparkling wines.
For Champagne, the second fermentation is called the “traditional method.” Yeast is added to the wine in the bottle, as well as added sugars. The bottles are then stored neck down and tipped in racks. When this second fermentation is done, the yeast collects in the neck of the bottle.
When Champagne is ready, the neck of the bottle is frozen and the dead yeast gets released, which is a process called “disgorgement.” The wine is then released and left to age for a minimum of 18 months for non-vintage Champagne, and 3 years for vintage Champagne.
For Prosecco, the method used to make the wine is called the “tank method.” This method involves adding yeast and sugar in a large steel tank and then sealed to prevent the carbon dioxide from escaping. Once the second fermentation in the steel tanks is done, Prosecco is then bottled.
- Flavor Profiles
Because different grapes and production are used to make each wine, the flavor profiles of Champagne and Prosecco are quite different, despite them being sparkling wines.
Champagne has more contact with the added yeast and gives the wine the following primary flavors: bread, toast, brioche, as well as citrus fruits flavors, and even cheese rind.
For Prosecco, the flavors are much fruitier, with primary flavors of pear, apple, and honeysuckle, as well as floral notes. Prosecco is also sweeter than Champagne.
Champagne is much more expensive than Prosecco due to the more intensive wine production process. A good quality Champagne starts at $40, while a good quality Prosecco is priced below $20.
Because of the price, Champagne is often perceived as more luxurious than Prosecco, but there are fine Prosecco wines that are a bit more expensive than regular Prosecco.
- Food Pairings
Champagne is best served with shellfish, pickled vegetables, and fried appetizers such as calamari, wings, or onion rings. It’s also incredibly great with potato chips. Anything fried and salty works well with Champagne.
For Prosecco, since the wine is sweeter, it makes a great match for Asian dishes like Pad Thai, fruit-driven appetizers, and even cured meats.
Champagne has finer and more persistent bubbles while Prosecco has lighter and more frothy bubbles that don’t last long when the bottle is opened.
- Serving Method
Both wines should be served well-chilled. Place a bottle of Champagne or Prosecco in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving, or for 30 minutes in ice water.
Champagne is best served in a flute glass, which traps in the carbon dioxide, while Prosecco is best served in a Champagne tulip glass, which is wider and rounder. This is because Prosecco’s floral and fruity flavors are best consumed when they are able to breathe and release. The tapered rim in a Champagne tulip glass also prevents bubbles from escaping, making the glass the best glassware to serve Prosecco.
Champagne and Prosecco are both sparkling wines that are full of flavor and bubbles. They are made with grapes from different parts of Europe that have colder climates, and both wines go through a second fermentation to create the carbon dioxide that produces the bubbles when you open a bottle of either wine.
While both have different flavors and are best paired with different food pairings, both Champagne and Prosecco are great options for celebrations, dinner parties, and any occasion for that matter.
Champagne is perceived as much more luxurious than Prosecco, due to the more intensive production process, as well the higher price tag, but Prosecco is just as flavorful, rich, lush, and enjoyable.