What is Champagne?The primary important piece of information you should know about champagne is that only true Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France. What makes champagne unique is that the soil where the grapes are grown in this region (90 miles northeast of Paris) contains large amounts of chalk and limestone. You may be asking why this matters, well, grapes grown there are able to ripen with high acidity and lower alcohol levels, which are both crucial components for great sparkling wine. Unlike other sparkling wines, champagne must be made under regulations in order to maintain such a high standard of quality for the product. There are several important aspects that champagne producers must adhere to:
- There are three permitted types of grapes used in the production of champagne -- chardonnay, pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier.
- The Traditional Method (Méthode Champenoise) of production is another important aspect that makes champagne unique. Key steps in this process include:
- Creating a base wine is the initial step, but because the grapes are picked earlier in the season, the wine has more tartness than other still wines. After this first fermentation process, the champagne is still (no bubbles yet).
- The next step is to add the sugar and yeast. This is the step that adds carbonation to the champagne because the yeast will eat the sugars and release carbon dioxide (bubbles).
- There are two methods of aging the champagne once it is carbonated -- lees and riddling.
- Dosage is the additional champagne that is added to the bottle after disgorging. This is to replace the champagne that was lost with the removal of the lees. This additional champagne also contains a measured amount of sugar to determine the desired sweetness.
- After re-corking and fitting of a wire cage, the bottle must rest for some additional time before being sold.
What is prosecco wine?Like champagne, prosecco is named after the Italian village of Prosecco near Trieste. Fynes Moryson was the first person to document prosecco, and in his writings, he lists Prosecho (prosecco) as one of the most famous wines of Italy. Such a bold claim comes with a great deal of legacy to live up to. What makes prosecco different from other types of sparkling wines are the grapes that are used and the production method. We’ll take a little closer look at what kind of wine is prosecco and what makes it unique.
What makes prosecco unique?The Glera grape is the main type that is to be used (85% or more in each bottle produced). Two fun facts about the Glera grape are that until 2009 it was called the prosecco grape and it ranks 13th in the importance among Italy’s approximate 2,000 grape varieties. The origins of this grape are believed to be from Slovenia’s Karst region. There are three different types of authentic prosecco: one controlled designation of origins (DOC) and two controlled designations -- of origin and guarantee (DOCG).
- DOC -- produced in nine provinces spanning Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions.
- Prosecco DOCG comes in two forms and this distinction means that the producers followed the strictest of guidelines to ensure the quality of the product.
- Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG can only be made in Veneto province (on the hills between the towns Conegliano and Valdobbiadene).
- Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG is produced near the town of Asolo.
Champagne vs prosecco: the differences
- Length of aging
- Taste palate
- Food pairings