“I only drink champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.” –Coco Chanel, French fashion designer
All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Champagne can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in northern France. Champagne is made using the “methode champenoise,” a very strict set of guidelines developed in France. This method involves creating the effervescence (the bubbles) in the bottle, when it undergoes a secondary fermentation. This is a very complex process, which forces the winemaker to handle each individual bottle many times. Champagne is Champagne because it comes from Champagne, France. There are even laws against labeling sparkling white wines Champagne if they weren’t produced in that area.
Sparkling wine is grape juice with alcohol and bubbles. It’s made from fermented grape juice; Emma Rice, the winemaker for Hattingley Valley Wines in England says that sparkling wine encompasses all bubbly wine that isn’t classified as Champagne or Prosecco. sparkling wine will be white because it comes from the flesh of the grape, which is always clear. The color is in the skin of the grape, so to get something like a Rosé or a sparkling red wine, winemakers have to be deliberate about allowing the grape skin to stay in contact with the juice during fermentation. You’ll most commonly see sparkling wine labelled “brut” or “extra dry.” Brut should taste dry, with no perception of sweetness. Extra dry tastes slightly sweet. Yep, “extra dry” actually means less dry and it’s actually slightly sweeter than brut, with a much softer mouthfeel.