In 2020, most countries reported a decline in champagne sales, while they grew by 11.2% in Australia.
Champagne is the perfect drink for any kind of celebration, so things like champagne hampers work well as a gift. But should you go for sparkling wine instead? You need to know how champagne and sparkling wine differ to answer that.
To find out, keep reading.
What Is Sparkling Wine?
Sparkling wine is a generic term for any carbonated wine. It can come from anywhere in the world, and there's a range of methods for making it. The traditional method is sometimes called the "Champagne method", but using this technique doesn't qualify a sparkling wine as Champagne.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are the most common choices for sparkling wine, but there is no rule on this, and other types are sometimes used. The grapes chosen and the production method used determine the final flavour of the wine.
Popular Types of Sparkling Wine
Some are more popular than others of the various types of sparkling wine. So if you're looking into sparkling wine gifts, you may want to know the generally considered best ones.
There are several ways to make Cava, but it always comes from Spain. It's made with the same method as Champagne, and a good Cava has a balanced taste with small bubbles.
Prosecco comes from the Veneto region of Italy. They have larger bubbles than most other sparkling wines and are produced in large tanks. The process used to make Prosecco is the Charmat method.
Crémant comes from France and uses the same method as Champagne but comes from outside the Champagne region. It's very similar to Champagne, but the bubbles tend to be softer and creamier. This is due to lower atmospheric pressure within the bottle.
Sket is made in stainless steel tanks and comes from Germany and Austria. While it is very popular in its home countries, Sekt is rarely exported around the world.
How Is Champagne Different?
Champagne is only made using the traditional method with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. This gives it a more nutty/toasty taste than other sparkling wines.
The main difference between sparkling wine and Champagne is that it comes from the Champagne region of France. Therefore, sparkling wine is only ever considered Champagne if bottled within 100 miles of this region.
Champagne is widely considered the most luxurious sparkling wine in the world, which is why it's included in some of the best wine gifts available.
The history of Champagne is somewhat contested, as what many people believed to be the origin of sparkling wine is now thought not to be true.
The story goes that a monk called Dom Perignon discovered sparkling wine by accident while living at the Abbey of Hautvillers. He opened a bottle of wine that had not completely fermented, which caused it so sparkle and fizz. He was so delighted with the taste, which led to the sparkling wines we drink today.
This story was widely taken as fact for a long time, but his documented work makes no mention of any sparkling wine, and during his time, people saw bubbles in wine as a bad sign - they even called it "devil's wine".
It's now believed that the English were the first to make sparkling wine as early as the 1600s intentionally. They would import barrels of non-sparkling wine from France and add sugar and molasses to create the bubbles.
Over the years, many different people experimented with different ways of making wine bubbly. Many methods are currently used for other sparkling wines, but Champagne is always made using the "traditional method".
- Harvest - grapes are hand-picked and carefully pressed to ensure only the best fruit goes into making Champagne.
- First Fermentation - this creates an acidic still wine and is usually done in a tank.
- Assemblage - about 5 months after harvest, various white wines and reserve wines are combined.
- Second Fermentation - the wine goes into a thick glass bottle after combining with yeast, yeast nutrients, and sugar which is then left to ferment in a cool cellar.
- Ageing - the Champagne spends several years (more than 5 for the best Champagnes) to produce its signature taste
- Riddling - The ageing process leaves dead yeast cells, which are carefully removed here.
- Disgorging - the neck of the bottle is frozen while it's upside down, forming a plug of frozen wine with the last of the yeast cells (this allows them to be more easily removed, leaving the clear Champagne in the bottle)
- Dosage - the type of Champagne is then decided by adding white wine, sugar, and brandy in specified amounts.
- Corking - the last stage where the bottle is finally corked and ready for sale
The overall duration of this can vary greatly depending on ageing. For example, champagne is sometimes aged further after corking, but there is much debate on the effects.
Aside from that, this process is always followed very closely to ensure all Champagne meets certain standards.
Almost all of the grapes within the Champagne region are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. These are the three grapes that make up nearly all Champagne, but there are 7 grapes in total that are permitted.
Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier are the other four types of grape that you may find in champagne. However, these four together account for just 0.3% of all plantlings used for champagne.
Champagne Hampers as Gifts
Sparkling wine and Champagne are ultimately quite similar, and deciding between the two comes down to preference.
Fruitful hampers offer a wide range of gifts for any occasion. If you're looking for something luxurious, our Champagne Hampers are perfect. All of our gourmet hampers come with matching accompaniments, and we offer contactless delivery all across Australia.If you have any questions about our products, click here to contact us today.