What’s the big difference between Prosecco and Champagne? Revealed…
Oct 03, 2018
Your hand hovers over the 40 quid Champagne bottle in the supermarket aisle – can you really justify shelling out over triple the price for the fancy upgrade? What makes this fizz so much more expensive than the Prosecco bubbles anyway?
In order to understand the vast price tag disparity between Prosecco and Champagne, you need to know what actually makes them different and then decide for yourself if it’s worth paying for.
The first major difference between these sparkling wines is the country from which they’re produced. Champagne hails from the, you guessed it, the Champagne region in France, known as the ‘birthplace’ of sparkling wines, which in itself gives this type of wine way more kudos. Whereas Italian import Prosecco (from Friuli and Veneto in the Northern part of the country) is one of the wines that adopted this original Champagne-making method, but with its own special tweaks.
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And it’s these different production methods that really set Champagne apart from Prosecco – in both taste and price, it is, quite simply, a very pricey thing to produce. Why? The traditional Champagne-making method is way more complicated and takes far, far longer than the Prosecco-producing process does.
How come? Champagne is made from the ‘Méthode Champenoise’, which can now only be used for the production of Champagne, (this is since producers kicked up a fuss with the European Union). The first fermentation process results in an acidic flat wine, and the next step involves a blending of different grapes – this is key to the Champagne-making process. The second fermentation process is another major part of the ‘Methode Champenoise’, where a mixture of still wine, sugar and yeast is mixed together with the wine and locked into the bottle with a crown cap. The bottles are stored horizontally and the fermentation round two takes place, sometimes for up to eight weeks. It’s the yeast that turns the sugar into a by-product of alcohol and carbon dioxide. But it’s not in any way finished yet. The wine is then aged for 15 months to three years on lees (dead yeast cells), which gives Champers its distinctive rich taste.
In comparison, Prosecco is a far simpler, cheaper, process. Although it follows many of the same steps as Champagne, for Prosecco the second fermentation takes place in big tanks rather than in individual bottles, which obviously makes things a whole lot cheaper…
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But the main factor that will land you in either the ‘Champagne’ or ‘Prosecco’ camp (other than the size of your wallet), is which taste profile floats your boat. Champagne is more aged, which gives it that richer, bitter, musky flavour, described as ‘toasty’ or ‘biscuity’. Whereas if you like your fizz lighter and more fruity, you’re probably going to be more ‘Team Prosecco’, which is not aged as long, has less contact with the yeast and consequently has a younger, fresher taste, with hints of fruits like pear and flavours like honeycomb and hazelnut. Another difference – although we think it’s only a deal-breaker for the fussiest of connoisseurs – is that the bubbles in Prosecco are lighter and bouncier than those in Champagne, since the tank fermentation method for Prosecco produces less pressure.
But a lot of what it comes down to when it comes to the pricing for Champagne Vs Prosecco is simply reputation. Champagne is marketed as extremely luxurious. It’s built up a name for itself over the years with a strong association with fancy occasions and fancy people. Much like buying a Porsche over a Ford Fiesta, one is rather swanky and swish, the other is a cheaper, less glam alternative. It doesn’t necessarily mean one is better quality than the other. With Champagne there’s also the association with many famous premium labels – Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Moët to name just a few. But can you think of any upmarket Prosecco brand though? We reckon you can only remember the label of the bottle that’s always on offer at Tesco’s.
So, when it comes to deciding which is better in the Champagne vs Prosecco debate, there is no clear-cut answer. It really depends on what factors are most important to you: the fancy associations with Champagne, or the cheaper wallet-friendly pricing of Prosecco. Maybe you hanker after the richer, aged flavours of Champers, or you prefer the lighter, sweeter taste of Prosecco – the answer is in your required luxe levels… and your taste buds.
Photo by Oscar Söderlund on Unsplash