What is the Difference Between Champagne and Prosecco?

Italian Prosecco is fast-becoming French Champagne’s main rival in the global luxury sparkling wine market. So which should you buy the next time you celebrate a special occasion? Ideal Wine Company considers the difference between Champagne and Prosecco.

Grapes varietals

Champagnes and Proseccos are created from different grapes. Champagnes are made and blended only from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Proseccos can be produced and blended from a wider variety of grapes, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Verdiso Bianchetta and Perara.

However, the little-known Glera grape, a highly-aromatic variety which dates back to Italy’s Roman period, tends to dominate Prosecco-making.

Production methods

By law, companies can only label their products ‘Champagne’ or ‘Prosecco’ if they use specific production methods. Champagne production is characterised by two fermentation processes; the first in an oak barrel, the second in a bottle.

This second fermentation is fuelled by extended contact with yeast and the addition of sugar. The second fermentation method involved in Prosecco-making takes place in a steel tank, which is more efficient and preserves the peachy notes found in Glera grapes.

Sweetness levels

Both Champagne and Prosecco have varying sweetness levels, depending on sugar content. However, Champagne’s sweetness scale is broader. It runs from ‘Brut Nature,’ which possesses 0-3 grams of sugar per litre to Doux, which contains over 50 grams of sugar per litre. Prosecco tends to taste sweeter and its sweetness gradient runs from Brut (0-16 grams of sugar per litre) to Dry (17-32 grams of sugar per litre).

Flavour differences

Industry portal Vine Pair writes that “there are variations in flavour within both Champagne and Prosecco… so it’s kind of hard to compare them as a whole.” However, Champagnes tend to possess flavours such as nuts, toast and even hay, due to their heavy exposure to yeast. In contrast, Prosecco’s are more likely to boast fruity, aromatic flavours, due to the steel tank fermentation process.

Comparing costs

The method used to make Champagne is more complex than the one which is employed to create Prosecco, so the French sparkling wine tends to be more expensive. As a rule of thumb, an entry-level Champagne will be about three times more expensive than an entry level Prosecco.

Iconic Champagne brands such as Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon and Cristal have long-standing reputations for making outstanding bottles, so their products can get really expensive.

Different products

Champagne and Prosecco are two very unique sparkling wines, varying drastically in sweetness content, flavour and price. Champagne typically sells at higher prices but you can find reasonably-priced, luxury Champagnes from online wine retailers such as Ideal Wine Company. We supply a selection of Champagnes from top brands such as Dom Perignon, Bollinger and Veuve Clicquot.