All about the bubbles

All about the bubbles

By Kristin Olszewski

It's fair to say that sparkling wine has an undeniable charm, bringing effervescence and celebration to any occasion. But when it comes to understanding the differences between Champagne and sparkling wine, many find it confusing. It's one of the most common questions that I get- so let me break down the key differences and tell you why California's sparkling wines can be just as delightful as its French counterpart.

I like to start at the basics- what are the differences between Champagne and sparkling wine?

Champagne:

  • Region-Specific: Champagne is a type of sparkling wine that can only be produced in the Champagne region of France.
  • Grapes Used: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are the primary grape varieties used.
  • Production Method: Made using the traditional method, known as "méthode champenoise," where secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle.

Sparkling Wine:

  • Global Production: Sparkling wine refers to any wine with bubbles and can be made in various regions worldwide, including California, Italy (Prosecco), and Spain (Cava).
  • Different Grape Varieties: A variety of grapes can be used, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, and more.
  • Production Methods: Sparkling wine can be made using the traditional method, the Charmat method (secondary fermentation in a tank), or carbonation.

Okay, that all makes sense, right, but what are the differences between Champagne and sparkling wine? Here are the top 3, IMHO:

  1. Location:

    • Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France.
    • Sparkling wine is a global product and is made in regions like California, Italy, and Spain.
  2. Production Methods:

    • Traditional Method (Méthode Champenoise): Used in Champagne and many quality sparkling wines globally, secondary fermentation happens in the bottle.
    • Charmat Method (Tank Method): Used in Prosecco, fermentation happens in a large tank.
    • Carbonation: Some sparkling wines are carbonated directly, similar to soda.
  3. Aging:

    • Champagne typically requires a longer aging period, which can range from 15 months to several years.
    • California sparkling wines made using the traditional method often follow similar aging practices.

We're a California-founded company and ADORE all things about the golden state, and I'm here to confirm- California has also become a significant player in the sparkling wine scene. How so? Let me tell you!

  1. Diverse Terroir:

    • California's diverse climate and soil types offer unique terroir, allowing producers to experiment with different styles and flavors.
    • Coastal regions like Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and the Central Coast provide cool climates ideal for growing sparkling wine grapes.
  2. Production Techniques:

    • Many California sparkling wine producers use the traditional method, ensuring high-quality bubbles.
    • It's been studied for years and California has truly mastered the art of sparkling wine production.
  3. Varietal Diversity:

    • California winemakers aren't limited to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; they experiment with various grape varieties, leading to innovative and exciting blends.
    • Some popular varieties include Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and even unconventional grapes like Riesling.
  4. Affordability:

    • California sparkling wines often offer excellent quality at a fraction of the price of Champagne.
    • Consumers can enjoy high-quality sparkling wine without breaking the bank.

I'm such a fan of "sipping what you love", and I think that both Champagne and California sparkling wine each have their own unique appeal. I also can confidently say that when it comes to flavor and quality, California sparkling wines stand tall. With diverse terroirs, traditional production methods, and innovative blends, California has firmly established itself as a top producer of sparkling wine. So, the next time you’re in the mood for bubbles, consider reaching for some California sparkling wine and toast to the good life! Cheers!