The Difference between Sparkling Wine and Champagne

With a loud pop, a cork flies into the air, people duck, scream, and laugh as the bubbles start rolling out of the bottle. The clinking of glasses fills the room as a sparkling fountain of fizz fills each glass for a toast.  Now, you may wonder, ìIs this really Champagne, or is this Sparkling Wine?

That question probably doesn’t occur to most party-goers at the time they’re enjoying their hosts ‘bubbly’.  However, there is some thought by most hosts about the difference between champagne and sparkling wine. You may not change your opinion about whether to serve champagne or sparkling wine, but as a host, you will at least be able to make an informed decision.  Let’s see what the difference is.


Even though many people use this name to refer to every type of sparkling alcoholic beverage, true Champagne actually hails from a region in France named, yes, Champagne.

The region of Champagne in France has become so popular with their sparkling wine making techniques that many producers have tried to duplicate them.  However, these knock-offs never live up to the name. It’s easy to understand since the French have been producing Champagne in the Champagne region since the early 1700ís.

With Champagne, the wine is actually bottled before it is completely fermented. The fermentation process in the bottle produces carbon dioxide, thus adding the bubble to the bubbly.

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling Wine is not fermented in the bottle, but instead is injected with high levels of carbon dioxide during the bottling process. Because of this injecting of the carbon dioxide, Sparkling Wine usually has a higher concentration of bubbles, offering a more dramatic ‘pop’ when the cork is removed. To the well trained palate, the mechanically infused bubbles can offer a slightly mechanical taste.

Another difference between the two beverages is the origin of the grapes. Just as in traditional wine, the region and conditions in which the grapes were grown influence the final product. The grapes used in Sparkling Wine usually result in a much lighter consistency than Champagne.

Still want to learn more about the difference between the two bubbly beverages?  Challenge yourself to a taste test!  Buy a bottle of Champagne and a bottle of Sparkling Wine. Taste the two side-by-side and you’ll begin to notice subtle differences. Chances are you will notice some nuances, but not a lot on the first try.  Invite your friends to join you.  It’s fun to compare notes to see how sophisticated your taste buds can be.

In the future, when someone pops the cork on a bottle of bubbly, you will have the information you need to discern whether that bottle is Sparkling Wine or if it came from the Champagne region and is truly Champagne. That information probably won’t matter as you and your fellow party-goers are toasting and enjoying the bubbly, but it’s just another fun thing to know about wine.

Speak Your Mind