Prosecco vs. Champagne: both bubbly and sparkling, both relatively dry in taste. Therefore, they must be the same thing, right? Well, not necessarily. There are major differences between these two types of sparkling wines, just as there's a difference between various white or red wines. The thing is, can anyone really tell the difference in taste if you show up with one instead of the other at a party?
For those who are walking into the world of sparkling wines with a blind eye, the answer is probably no. They'll likely be more concerned with the fact that you brought a bottle of something alcoholic rather than differentiating between Prosecco and Champagne.
However, for the winos of the world, the difference is striking, and it wouldn't hurt for the rest of us to get a little more knowledge regarding these seemingly close wine relatives.
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Firstly, the grapes used in the making of Prosecco differ from those which are used to make champagne. In fact, there is only one grape used to make Prosecco, in comparison to the 2 to 3 grape varieties used in the making of Champagne.
This isn't to say that there aren't various types of grapes that can be used to make Prosecco, because there are. It simply means that when making it, vineyards and wineries choose one solo grape per type of Prosecco.
The types of grapes commonly used for Prosecco are Perera, Bianchetta, Verdiso, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Ironically, some of the same grapes are used to make Champagne.
However, the difference here is that the creators of any given type of Champagne are using a combination of three grapes as opposed to just the one in Prosecco. It might surprise you that the general rule-of-thumb behind making champagne is the ratio of black to white grapes.
You'd probably guess that white grapes are the sole perpetrators in crafting up a batch of champagne, but you'd be mistaken. It's usually a blend of two black grapes and one white that are combined to give you the sweet, sweet taste of Champagne that you know and love. The types of grapes mostly used in Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
Another notable fact differentiating Champagne from Prosecco is where they're both respectively made. Champagne originates from the Champagne region of France, near the city of Reims. The way it's made also differs from Prosecco, too.
Wine-makers use a traditional method to craft Champagne, a method known to be more costly and lengthened process compared to other sparkling wines. This includes a second round of fermentation, aging, rotating, freezing and consolidating in a pressurized tank all prior to bottling the end product.
Prosecco differs in that it's made in the Veneto region of Italy around the city of Treviso, just north of Venice. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco-makers use a tank method to brew up this sweet stuff.
In translation, that means it's more affordable, which calls for a second round of fermentation like Champagne, but then goes to the clarification and cooling stage in an Autoclave tank, then the bottles are filled in a pressurized tank.
You can get away with pairing either of these sparkling wines with similar snacks, such as sliced pears and apples, however the two have distinct characteristics that blend well with different foods.
Champagne has the tendency to be more dry and of a higher acidity, thus pairs well with shellfish, raw bar items and fried appetizers such as calamari.
Prosecco tends to lend itself to the sweeter side of the spectrum, therefore is best paired with thinly sliced cured meats and fruits such as melons and pears.
In the end, whichever you prefer is a great choice, and now you're more educated on the differences between these two fine sparkling wines.