Sparkling wine or Champagne?

A question that we are often asked is, “What is the difference between “Sparkling Wine” and “Champagne”? The easy and short answer is that sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France, which is just outside of Paris. Further, champagne can only be made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

To clarify, all champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne. We really should think of Champagne in terms of a geographical place as opposed to a winemaking style.

Where do the Bubbles come from?: Sparkling wine is made by taking the simple formula for fermentation (sugar + yeast = alcohol and CO2), and not allowing the resulting gas to escape. When you ferment wine in a closed or sealed environment, the carbon dioxide (CO2) returns into the wine, only to be released in the form of tiny bubbles after opening.

Origins: The story of how this all started is attributed to the monk Dom Perignon (1638-1715), who is noted to have said, “Come quickly, I’m seeing stars.”, but in reality, it was probably discovered slowly over time by many monks in the Champagne region.

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