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What Is Champagne?
Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in Champagne, a region of France located 90 miles northeast of Paris. Only wines produced in this region can be called Champagne.
As legend has it, a monk named Dom Pérignon—you might recognize his name—was making white wine in Champagne when, by chance, he ended up carbonating it, thus creating: Champagne. Whether or not this is true, Champagne generally began popping up in France during the late 1600s. Learn more about Champagne with our guide here.
What Is Prosecco?
Prosecco is a sparkling Italian wine, originating from the village of Prosecco in Northern Italy. While producers in other locations around the world have used the term to describe their wines, technically speaking, only wines produced in Northern Italy’s Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions are considered true prosecco.
Records trace prosecco back to ancient Rome, where Pliny the Elder, a famous Roman writer, declared Pucino (a wine made with the prosecco grape) one of the great wines of the day.
Which Types of Grapes Are Used in Champagne vs. Prosecco?
Champagne can be made from three different grapes, either individually or as a blend:
- Pinot noir, a thin-skinned black grape most commonly associated with the Burgundy region of France, and typically used in red wines. Learn more about pinot noir here.
- Pinot meunier, a black grape to which many attribute Champagne’s richness.
- Chardonnay, a green grape that originated in the Burgundy region, and is most commonly found in white wine. Learn more about chardonnay here.
A few other grape varieties are permitted, but only in very small quantities. Though all of these grape varieties may be cultivated in other regions, only grapes grown in the Champagne region of France may be used for the production of Champagne.
Prosecco, on the other hand, must be made up of at least 85% glera grapes, a thin-skinned green grape with moderately high acidity (which has also been referred to, simply, as prosecco). The remaining 15% can come from other Italian grapes such as bianchetta trevigiana and perera, along with more international grapes such as chardonnay and pinot grigio. All grapes used must be grown in Northern Italy for the wine to be considered prosecco.
What Is the Difference in Production Between Champagne and Prosecco?
In addition their differing grapes and regions, Champagne and prosecco use different production processes to add carbonation to the finished product through a second fermentation. For instance, Champagne uses the méthode champenoise, a complex and traditional method in which the wine becomes bubbly after bottling. Prosecco, on the other hand, uses the méthode charmat, a simpler process for creating bubbles through secondary fermentation in large steel tanks prior to bottling.
What Is the Difference in Taste Between Champagne and Prosecco?
Champagne tends to be drier, with toasty, nutty notes, a greater minerality and decidedly fine bubbles. With prosecco, expect a brighter, fruitier taste. In terms of bubbles, prosecco can be found in two varieties: frizzante (gently sparkling) and spumante (fully sparkling).
Learn more about food and wine pairings in James Suckling’s MasterClass.