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The Differences Between Prosecco, Cava and Champagne

Prosecco, Cava and Champagne are all perfect served chilled on a sunny day, with nibbles at a party or as the base for a decadent cocktail. Cheers!

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When it comes to the bubbles in your flute, not everythinf is created equally. We are often asked ‘What is the difference between Champagne, Prosecco and Cava?’ and this is usually followed by a question around which is best.

Whilst Champagne is widely considered the standard bearer of quality and the only drink worth pouring at a big celebration, both Prosecco and Cava – as well as other very good Sparkling Wines – are catching up in popularity. It seems that everyone beginning to realise that as with all good food and drink, the quality of the individual grape, winery and process matters far more than a regional name.

Luckily for all of us, this means that there are more sparkling wine options available than ever – so how do you know which one will suit your tastes, what to drink when, and how to tell a stand out Cava, Prosecco or Sparkling Wine?

Some of our team favourites:

 

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Location of Sparkling Wine

This is the single largest difference between the three big sparklers, each of which is protected under Geographic Indication – a set of strict regulations that limits the naming of food and drink to a specific region of the world, often referred to as appellation.*

  • Champagne, French. Produced in the northeast of the country in five wine-producing districts within the historical province of Champagne: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne.
  • Prosecco, Italian. Produced in northeast of Italy in 4 provinces of Friuli Venezia Giulia – namely Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine; and 5 provinces of Veneto which are Belluno, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vicenza.
  • Cava, Spanish. Refers to sparkling wine produced Spain to traditional methods, with 95% of all cava is produced in the Penedes area in Catalonia.

Grape Varieties

Champagne, Cava and Prosecco are each produced using different grape varietals.

  • Champagne is made up of a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, creating a fresh and fruity sip.
  • Prosecco is traditionally made from Glera, a lighter-bodied grape that offers fragrant, floral aromas ) but other grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are also used
  • Cava contains a blend of Xarello, Parellada and Macabeo grapes, presenting fresh, zesty and floral notes.

Method of Production and Ageing

The ‘traditional method’ of making a bottle of fizz involves creating a still wine and then bottling it with yeast and sugar, which will form bubbles when left to ferment. Both Champagne and Cava are made using this method.

The addition of the yeast means they need to be left to age so that the flavours can develop. Champagne takes a minimum of fifteen months to produce the best flavours and aromas, while Cava takes a little less time at around least nine months.

Prosecco uses a different technique known as the ‘Tank Method’. Rather than adding extra flavours and ingredients to the bottle, still wine ferments within a pressurised tank. This means that Prosecco does not require any ageing, and in fact, will taste best the sooner you drink it!

Bubbles or Mousse

We all have a preference when it comes to our bubbles, but did you know that they difference comes from a combination of the grapes used, winemaking techniques and ageing times.

  • Champagne bubbles will be persistent and very fine looking due to the high pressure it is kept at while ageing for a long time.
  • Cava will present persistent and fine bubbles similar to Champagne.
  • Prosecco bubbles are light and frothy with bigger and less persistent bubbles.

Flavour

Wines vinified using traditional-method fermentation – so Champagne and Cava - have a special something to add an extra layer of complexity: lees contact. Lees, the dead yeast cells left behind when fermentation is finished, are trapped inside the bottle until the wine is disgorged and ready to be sold.

As they remain in the wine, the lees impart both flavor — that savory, yeasty, brioche-like quality — and creamy texture that increases over time. Even the most basic Cava must spend nine months aging on the lees, meaning that it will likely have more non-fruit flavors and minerality.

Prosecco, because it undergoes secondary fermentation in tank and is then transferred to bottle, does not spend extended time in contact with the lees, nor does it have any minimum aging requirements. This creates a simpler, more fruit-driven flavour profile that fans of this bubbly fizz adore.

  • Prosecco tends to be lighter; very fresh, super-fragrant, typically fruity and flowery.
  • Cava has more citrus notes and hints of pear or quince, but more savory, mineral flavors and less fruity sweetness.
  • Champagne, depending on the maker, could be on the lighter or heavier side, with citrus or mature apple flavors and a yeasty tone. It’s also usually more acidic.

How To Enjoy Sparkling Wines

Perfect as an apéritif, served chilled on a sunny day or with nibbles as party food Prosecco, Cava and Champagne are all an international favourites for fans of sparkling wines. So, raise a glass everyone and let’s celebrate the fizz.

Sparkling wines can be drunk on their own – far, far too easily sometimes! – but they are also perfect start to any dinner party or get together. They are delicious with nibbles at a party and really do make salty crisps and nuts taste even more moreish! With that said, because of the bubbles they make an ideal match for Afternoon Tea with pastries, biscuits, cakes and macarons.

Cocktails with Champagne, Cava or Prosecco

All sparkling wines make a wonderful cocktail base and some of the world’s most famous recipes start with a good bottle of fizz. Think Bellinis, Mimosas, Kir Royales and Aperol Spritz.

We love ours with around 20mls of flavoured gin liqueur and our current favourites are Perth Gin Blood Orange and Edinburgh Gin’s Rhubarb.

Make Sure It's The Real Deal

Ensure the provinance and quality of your sparkling wine by looking out for the following:

  • DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin)
  • DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin)
  • Appellation contrôlée or appellation d’origine contrôlée are the French equivalents.

Provender Brown is proud to stock some of the world's best Champagne, Prosecco and Cava.  If you'd like help choosing a bottle please speak to one of our team who will be happy to help you.  Check it out on our online shop for  Champagne, Prosecco and Cava and Sparkling Wine

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