Champagne, Cava, Prosecco: What’s the Difference Between Sparkling Wines?
You’re celebrating (or it’s Wednesday), and you need a bottle of bubbly for the occasion. But do you know what you’re really drinking? Like, isn’t prosecco just cheap-o Champagne?
While “sparkling wine” is just a catchall term for fizzy vino (and there are more varieties than we can count on our hands), not all of them are the same. We’ve got the DL on three popular types: Champagne, prosecco and cava.
Whoa, did you know that it’s actually illegal for any wine not produced in the Champagne region of France to be called “Champagne”? Thanks to some pretty strict regulations, this sparkling wine can also be produced only by the méthode traditionnelle. That means it’s bottled and capped before its second fermentation. (Read: Where the magic happens.) Champagne can range from bone-dry (Brut Nature) all the way to sweet (Demi-Sec), with sharp bubbles and a nutty taste. Expect to pay a bit more for the real deal, even for an entry-level Champagne.
Despite what your *classy* friend Jen says, prosecco isn’t just “cheap Champagne.” For starters, the wine comes from northern Italian Glera grapes. It also gets its bubbles from a different method: Here, the wine ferments in a steel tank, becoming carbonated before being bottled. Prosecco is also more floral and fruit-forward, with softer bubbles. True, it may cost less than Champagne, but there’s no reason to scoff at this popular and tasty drink. Psst: Try it with spicy food!
Hailing from Catalonia, this Spanish bubbly is actually produced exactly like Champagne (but with different grapes). Cava is usually on the dry side, and depending on the bottle, it can be citrusy, floral or slightly vegetal tasting. Because the land it’s produced on is much cheaper than say, Champagne, France, this sparkler is incredibly easy on the wallet (without sacrificing taste).