Champagne or sparkling wine - what's the difference?

Three men in a wine shop tasting Champagne

What is the difference between Champagne, Prosecco and Cava, and even the award winning English sparkling wines from the south-east of the UK? So many sparkling wines to choose from! The team at the The Wine Reserve are here to help explain and give you handy tips along the way.

Champagne and sparkling wines are enjoyed around the world in times of celebration. The popping of the corks and the fizzy bubbles can't help but put a smile on everyone's faces. Although here at The Wine Reserve, we prefer to drink our sparkling wines instead of shaking the bottles to spray around the room - all good fun but what a waste of a great wine!

Champagne and other sparkling wines are effervescent wines, meaning they contain bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. However, there are some key differences between the two, including their origin, production method, and flavor profile.

Where do they come from?

Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava are three popular types of sparkling wine, each with their own unique characteristics. English sparkling wine is also growing in popularity. While they all share the same effervescence, there are significant differences between them in terms of their region of origin, grape varieties used, production methods, and flavor profile.

Champagne - the king of French sparkling wine

The term Champagne refers exclusively to the sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France, located northeast of Paris. This region has a unique terroir, or combination of soil, climate, and topography, that is well-suited for growing the three grape varieties used in Champagne production: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

Champagne has a unique flavor profile that is influenced by its terroir and production method. The wine is often described as having notes of green apple, citrus, and toast, with a mineral finish. The bubbles in Champagne are also typically smaller and more persistent than those in other sparkling wines.

On the other hand, sparkling wine can be produced in any wine region around the world - including other parts of France. Sparkling wines from regions other than Champagne are often referred to as "Champagne-style" or "methode traditionnelle" (traditional method) wines.

Often regarded as a luxury, we stock a range of Champagnes at different price points making it an accessible drink for any budget.

Prosecco - an Italian master

Prosecco is produced in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions of Italy, specifically in the hills north of Venice. The area is characterized by a mild climate and hilly terrain, which is well-suited for growing the Glera grape variety used in Prosecco production. Cheaper than its French competitor it is known for its floral and fruity aromas making it slightly sweeter on the palate.

Cava - the underrated Spanish sparkler

Cava is produced primarily in the Catalonia region of Spain, with smaller production in other regions such as Rioja and Valencia. The region is characterized by a Mediterranean climate and a mix of soil types, which are suitable for growing a variety of grape varieties including Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada. Cava has a nutty and toasty character.

English Sparkling Wines - British Fizz

Our very own English sparkling wines are award winning competitors for the top spot. Not really known for being a wine making country (yet), the changing climates are providing the perfect conditions in the south-east of England for producing some top notch sparkling wines with 75% of the country's production coming from Kent, West Sussex, Hampshire, East Sussex and right here in Surrey). Bride Valley's Brut Reserve uses the same grapes as its French counterpart, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier and we love it here. 

We think the British Fizz industry will grow from strength to strength and we are proud to sell it in the shop and online.