Prosecco Versus Champagne: What's the Difference?


Today’s sparkling wines aren’t just for special occasions. Modern wine lovers are enjoying Champagne and Prosecco at happy hours and with their mid-week meals. Keep reading to learn more about these amazing and approachable wines! 

Champagne and Prosecco Are Country-Specific Wines 

Under European Union law, Champagne is only made in France and Prosecco in Italy. While you might see American, Australian, and other non-European sparkling wines, they’re not technically Champagne or Prosecco. (Similarly, Cava, Spain’s version of sparkling wine, can only be produced in that country.) 

Specifically, Champagne is only grown and produced in the Champagne region, which is near Reims, France. This northeast wine region has a cool climate, steep hillsides, and soil that is predominantly chalk, marl, and limestone. The climate and soil composition of Champagne encourage wines that are lean and acidic. 

Most Prosecco is grown and produced in the Veneto region — a large wine region in northeast Italy. Nestled between the Dolomite Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, the region has a temperate climate and soil that is high in limestone, chalk, marl, and marine sandstone. Because the climate is warmer in Veneto than Champagne, the wines are typically fruitier and more floral. 

According to most historians, the modern sparkling wine industry was established in France in 1693. Prosecco’s history can be traced back to 1868.  

Different Winemaking Methods Deliver Different Flavors and Effervescence  

To make champagne, you must use a work-intensive winemaking method called either the méthode Champenoise or the méthode traditionnelle. Winemakers add sugar and yeast to a base wine that is Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. From there, the wine goes through a complicated process where it is bottle aged, riddled, frozen, and carefully monitored.  

Because Champagne is aged on yeast particles (sometimes called “lees”), the wine frequently takes on a toasty or biscuit flavor. And because it is aged in the bottle, Champagne typically has a higher pressure, resulting in fine and sharp bubbles.  

In comparison, Prosecco is made using a more modern method called the Metodo Italiano, Charmat, or tank method. Winemakers use a base wine made of Glera grapes and add yeast and sugar. It undergoes a second fermentation in a tank and is then clarified and cooled in the same tank. Finally, the sparkling wine is bottled.  

The tanks used in the Metodo Italiano result in gentler, frothy bubbles, and shorter fermentation times lead to fruitier flavors. And because Prosecco is aged in tanks and then bottled, there is more consistency between bottles.  

Prosecco Has a Reputation for Affordability — But Luxury Bottles Are Also Available 

Some wine lovers associate Prosecco with cheap, fizzy wines that lack the complexity of a bottle of Champagne. Thankfully, the quality of Prosecco has increased significantly over time, and there are now exceptionally good bottles available in the United States.  

The vast majority of Prosecco is “Prosecco DOC,” which is grown anywhere in the Veneto or Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions of Italy. However, you can also get single vineyard Prosecco that is labeled as Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore Rive DOCG or bottles that are from high-quality micro-regions like Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Colli Asolani. Some of the most coveted Prosecco comes from a tiny, 256-acre zone called Cartiz. 

Compared to the most collectible Champagnes, high-end Prosecco is still remarkably affordable. You can find bottles of Superiore di Cartizze for less than $40 and high-quality Prosecco DOC for under $20. While some of this value is delivered through a less-intensive production process, some of it is due to Champagne’s brand reputation as a luxury good. 

Try It Today! La Marca Prosecco Is On Sale 

This week, you can buy La Marca Prosecco DOC on sale at our stores. This versatile, enjoyable sparkler offers persistent effervescence along with pleasant citrus, honey, and floral flavors. It’s a flexible, flavorful blend that’s delicious on its own or in a classic spritz. Saluti!