The Difference Between Sparkling Wine and Champagne

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 4,473
    Tim Hong, Certified Sommelier with Total Wine & More discusses the difference between methods of creating bubbly wine.

    Tim Hong: Hi! I am Tim Hong, Certified Sommelier with Total Wine & More, here to talk about the different styles of bubbly made throughout the world. There are many different ways to produce effervescent wine, but there are two basic categories; mthode champenoise and sparkling wine. Mthode champenoise or mthode traditionnelle has been adopted all over the world by many producers and regions as their preferred way of making bubbly. This is a long aging process and specific steps must be taken to identify a wine as mthode traditionnelle.

    Champagne of course is all mthode traditionnelle, but there are many other places in the world that use this method too, such as CAVA from Spain, Crmant de Bourgogne just south of Champagne, or Franciacorta in Italy. One of the important defining steps is that carbonation is created in the bottle, which is a natural byproduct of fermentation. Sparkling wines are made in many different ways; some by fermenting in tanks to create bubbles; others add carbonation at bottling.

    These methods traditionally make fruitier, softer wines that are great as pair with cheese or for cocktail parties. Some great examples are Prosecco from Italy, Sekt from Germany, and Asti from Northern Italy. When choosing a bubbly wine, either sparkling or mthode champenoise, consider the dryness level. Here is a quick, easy tip, look for these keywords on the labels; Brut, Dry, Extra Dry, and Demi-Sec. Brut is the driest style, while Demi-Sec is the sweetest. Yes, Dry is drier than Extra Dry. Most commonly, you will see Brut, Extra Dry and Demi-Sec styles at your local wine store. Be sure to talk with your favorite wine expert about what other styles are out there, there are some beyond mthode champenoise and sparking wine. But whatever style, find your next favorite bottle of bubbly and celebrate no matter what the occasion.