Le Grand Courtâge What is the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne?
What is the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne?
A question that we are often asked is, “What is the difference between “Sparkling Wine” and “Champagne”? Or What is the difference between “Sparkling Wine” and “Prosecco”? The easy and short answer is that sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France which is located just outside of Paris. Furthermore, Champagne can only be made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.
To clarify, all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. We really should think of Champagne in terms of a geographical location as opposed to a winemaking style.
Where do the bubbles come from?
Sparkling wine is made by a fermentation process that combines sugar and yeast to produce alcohol and CO2. The fermentation process for wine requires an enclosed or sealed environment so that no resulting gas from the fermentation can escape. The carbon dioxide then returns into the wine released in the form of tiny bubbles after opening the bottle. In some cases, you’ll find lower-priced bubbly wines on shelves that are injected with bubbles, similar to soda, which isn’t defined as sparkling wine in the proper traditional context.
Types of Sparkling Wine
Producers from every region of the world have seized upon the popularity of bubbly and the rising cost of champagne.
In Spain, Cava is made in many different styles. But the best examples contain small bubbles and have a balanced taste of freshness and creaminess. Cava undergoes the same production process as Champagne, but with different grapes.
The wines that sparkle in the Veneto region of Italy are called Prosecco. These wines have larger bubbles and are produced in large tanks using a method called the Charmat.
The sparkling wines of Austria and Germany are called Sekt. The wines are made using the tank method with fermentation in stainless steel.
France is known for its ‘Champagne’ in which the fermentation occurs inside each bottle. Crémant is a style of sparkling wine produced in Champagne using the “method champenoise” second fermentation. Unlike other Champagnes, Crémant has less atmospheric pressure which gives the bubbles a softer, creamier taste in contrast to the stark, bracing pop you get from Champagne.
Three Hallmarks of a Good Sparkler
Fresh: Bright and alive in your mouth, fruity but not necessarily sweet. The flavor of a Brut or a Dry Champagne should be like a crisp apple, or melon profile, with a lovely aroma of stone fruit and slight minerality.
Precise: On the tongue, the wine should feel dreamy as the bubbles roll around your mouth. Precision is more about the acid, which is mandatory for good sparkling wines. This will give it a crisp mouth feel.
Sparkling: Small bubbles are a sign of high-quality wine. The best sparklers will have a constant path of uniform bubbles traveling from the bottom to the top. Less quality sparkling wine will have different sizes of bubbles taking different paths. (An imperfect wineglass can cause this also)
Sparkling wine can be some of the most versatile wines for pairing because of its bubbles that help scrub the palate. These wines transition well between light and heavy cuisines, so they make it easy to satisfy recipe pairings. They’re also great as aperitifs and with dishes that have a bit of fruitiness or sweetness.
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At Le Grand Courtâge, we created a Vin Mousseux using the “Cuve Close” (“closed tank” method, otherwise known as the Charmat method) in order to create consistency in the style. Our 90+ point French sparkling wines are produced in Nuits St Georges in Burgundy, France. We offer a Blanc de Blancs Brut and a Brut Rosé and use Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Chenin Blanc, and Gamay in our blends in order to offer a dry, crisp, light palate with just a hint of fruit and floral on the finish in order to create a balanced flavor profile. We wanted to create something which is extremely cuisine and cocktail-friendly.
Tawnya Falkner, the American female founder and CEO of Le Grand Courtâge and Très Chic, took the leap and moved to France with the intent to create an affordable luxury that celebrates and elevates every day and reminds people to live joyously. Her goal was an approachable, affordable, versatile French bubbly that is perfect for all of life’s occasions and everyday moments. Cheers!
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