If you have ever wondered the difference between champagne and sparkling wine, it comes down to geography. Champagne comes from, you guessed it, Champagne, France, which is outside of Paris. According to European law, the label can only say “Champagne” legally if it is made within 100 miles of this region.
With the rising cost of Champagne and the rising popularity of wine with bubbles, sparkling wine is getting more and more desirable and is being made all around the world.
TYPES OF GRAPES
The three most widely used types of grapes that champagne can be derived from are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. There are other, not-as-common grapes, such as Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, used to make champagne, but they are not the most popular.
THE SCIENCE OF SPARKLING WINE
Sparkling wine differs from standard wine in that bubbles remain in the wine. If you really want to get into the science of it, when you ferment wine and don’t allow the gas to escape, the carbon dioxide stays in the wine and is released, in the form of bubbles, once the wine is opened.
DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER?
Wine experts agree, the sign of a good sparkling wine is the size of its bubbles. Small bubbles are an indication of a high-quality wine.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SPARKLING WINE
Now you can get sparkling wine from almost anywhere in the world. Heard of Prosecco? That’s from the Veneto region of Italy. Cava is sparkling wine from Spain. There are also sparkling wines from Austria, Argentina, and as far away as Australia (among other locales).
The Villa Bellezza Winery in Pepin, WI makes its sparkling wine using the Charmat method, typically used in Italy. In this method, as their reps tell us, “Pressurized stainless steel tanks are used in the second fermentation process to create the bubbles characteristic of sparkling wine. Refrigeration is being used to control temperature to ensure the best quality end-product.”
SO WHICH IS BETTER FOR A WEDDING?
There really is no correct answer to this. It all comes down to preference (and budget). Champagne is more expensive, for sure. The good news is, sparkling wines of all types are so versatile, in that they work for every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner), with many types of food (sweet, spicy, salty, you name it). Whether you’re having a morning wedding with a post-ceremony brunch, or an evening affair, sparkling wine can be a part of your celebration. If you’re planning on providing a glass for every guest, you might want to open yourself up to trying sparkling wines that won’t break the bank. But it’s up to you, try a variety, consider what food you are pairing it with, and you might be pleasantly surprised that you could prefer the taste of the less costly option.