Wine Education: Champagne or Prosecco? What’s the best choice?
It may be a wedding, anniversary, graduation, or just old friends getting together. When we celebrate happy occasions, we often do so with sparkling or bubbly wine. The elegant color and festive bubbles seem to make the event all the more special.
No matter what the label says, we often refer to this celebratory beverage as Champagne. But, not all sparkling wine has the label of Champagne, and it doesn't represent a generic term.
Champagne derives exclusively from the Champagne region of France. The EU laws state, for a bottle to wear the Champagne label it must come from a defined appellation, and the winery must follow the pressing guidelines for harvesting and bottling Champagne.
The grapes used may include Chardonnay but also Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Most Champagnes consist of a blend of grapes and therefore don't have a vintage year on the bottle. Although Rose' Champagne can be quite elegant, most Champagne has a straw or cream like color.
Champagne first began its association with royalty and celebrations in the 17th century.
Prosecco originates from Veneto, Italy in the northeast region. The Glera grape which also identifies as the Prosecco grape makes up the majority of the grapes used in Prosecco's production. Like its French counterpart Champagne, blending with other grapes often occur. Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir often combine with the Glera grape to make up Prosecco.
Production of Prosecco began in the 16th century. It wasn't until the 1960s that the Italian wine started to lose its Asti Spumante college reputation. The new Prosecco was less sweet and more refined.
In 2008, Prosecco began to realize a significant boon, leaving many party goers looking for Prosecco instead of Champagne.
Which to choose:
As always, personal preference should determine which bottle of wine you select. When choosing a sparkling wine, you will want to take into consideration the food served along with the wine, your taste for dry or sweet wine, and your finances. Generally speaking, you'll save a few dollars with Prosecco, but if you're looking for something drier or a bottle to keep for your 50th wedding anniversary, you may want to head for the Champagne aisle.
Then, of course, it may be fun to consider your national preference. If you're having dinner with your Italian cousins, Prosecco becomes the obvious choice. If you're celebrating the last World Cup victory, then you had better pick up some Champagne.
- Adam Linet