What is the difference between a sparkling wine and Champagne?
Champagne comes from the region of the same name in France. Sparkling wine has been produced in the area since the days of the Roman empire.
Though many people use the term "champagne" to designate all sparkling wines, in truth Champagne is a specific type of French sparkling wine. Champagne comes from the region of the same name in France. The area has produced sparkling wine since the days of the Roman empire, and still bottles some of the best vintages in the world.
The producers of Champagne carefully guard the right to use the name Champagne on a bottle, and have done so since 1891, when the Treaty of Madrid was signed. The treaty declared that only wines made in a particular region could use the name on the bottle. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, the peace agreement ending World War I, reaffirmed that rule.
Why, then, do we often see bottles marked "champagne" that are produced in the United States? The U.S. never signed the Treaty of Versailles, but rather had a separate peace agreement with Germany. That agreement did not include regulations regarding spirits. The U.S. was in the midst of Prohibition in 1919 and did not see the need to agree to rules dealing with alcohol, since liquor was banned in the U.S.
Long after prohibition was lifted, some vintners in the U.S. took advantage of the loophole, and bottled American champagne. This is also why you'll see bottles of Burgundy, or Chablis or other French regions adorning the labels of American wines.
The Champagne region, established by law in 1927, is located 90 miles northeast of Paris. It includes over 312 villages.
"Unfortunately in the U.S. far, far, far too many people will use the name Champagne to designate any and every sparkling wine. And honestly I believe it is to everybody's disadvantage," says Jean-Louis Carbonnier, Director of the Champagne Wines Information Bureau.
Carbonnier says it makes it difficult for a consumer to tell where a wine is produced. And region does make a difference when it comes to taste. He believes Champagne flavors are "more complex and less fruity than some other sparkling wines from other regions."
"I think Champagnes will be more refined, have more delicacy of flavor. I would also say generally (true) Champagnes have been aged a little longer," Carbonnier adds.
Many French Champagne houses also operate American vineyards. For example Domaine Chandon is owned by the French house Moët & Chandon, makers of Dom Pérignon. Taittinger has a California sparkling wine under the name Domaine Carneros, and there are many others.
On their labels, these American sparkling wines note that they use the traditional method of producing Champagne called méthode champenoise, but are careful not to call their product Champagne.
Many French Champagne houses also have California vineyards. Domaine Carneros, pictured above, is owned by the French house Taittinger.
According to Iron Horse Vineyards, a California sparkling wine producer, the big difference between a Champagne and an American sparkling wine is in the fruit. Because California enjoys more sunlight hours, Iron Horse claims the fruit is richer and the resulting wine generally drier than many Champagnes.
While that may be true, New York restaurateur Joe Scalice believes many people have the misconception that sparkling wines that aren't Champagne are somehow inferior. "In reality, sparkling wine can be every bit as good as champagne," Scalice says.
Other vintners around the world also bottle their own sparking wines. A quick look at a bottle could clue you in to where the sparkling wine is made. For example, "Vins Moussex," means it is a French sparkling wine made outside the Champagne region. A Spumante is Italian sparkling wine, Sekt is German and a Cava is Spanish.
i love champagne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!