Champagne vs. Sparkling wine

All champagne is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is champagne. A sparkling wine is any wine, from anywhere in the world that has bubbles in it from being carbonated. True champagne, is still considered sparkling wine, but must come from the Champagne region of France. It must be made using a process called Methode Champenoise. Methode Champenoise is the traditional method of making champagne where the the wine is bottled after the first fermentation.  A second fermentation then occurs in the bottle induced by adding a small amount of yeast and rock sugar (dosage) that is added to each bottle. During this process the champagne is capped with a crown cap. The bottle is then riddled(slowly turned over time) so that the lees(sediment) settles in the neck of the inverted bottle. The neck is then frozen and the cap removed. The pressure in the bottle forces out the lees, the bottle is then topped off and recapped. The second method of making sparkling wine is called the Charmant Process or bulk process. In this process carbon dioxide is injected into the wine after fermentation and bottling and then capped. Sparkling wine can be made from a variety of grapes and come from many regions of the world. Champagne (France) is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or a blend of the three. Sparkling wine from other worldly locations use a great number of grape types including the aforementioned. The sparkling wine of Spain is called Cava, South Africa produces Cap Classique, Espumante of Portugal and Spumante from Italy are other well known types of sparkling wine. Sparkling wines can have a varying degree of sweetness or dryness. The degree of sweetness is determined technically by the amount of residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation and bottling measured in grams/liter.

  • Doux: A very sweet sparkler.
  • Demi-Sec: This type is fairly sweet
  • Sec:  Indicates a slightly sweet type of sparkling wine
  • Extra Dry: Only slightly dry. Better labeled as Semi Dry.
  • Brut: Dry
  • Extra Brut (Brut Sauvage) or Natural: The driest of all sparkling wines.

Additional label information:

  • Blanc de Blanc: “White of White”. Sparkling wine made from white grape varietals.
  • Blanc de Noir: “White of Black”. Sparkling wine made with red grapes which give varying hues of color to the wine, determined by the amount of skin contact the juice has with the skins of the Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grape.
  • Rose: Pinkish sparkling wine made from the Pinot Noir of Pinot Meunier grape with elongated skin contact. Pinot Noir wine can also be added to the wine to give the desired color.
  • Spumante: Asti Spumante is a sparkling wine from the Asti region of Italy that is made primarily from the Moscato grape. Spumante without the Asti designation can be made from a variety of grapes and is made in the rest of the world.


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