What’s the difference between champagne, cava and prosecco?

9 Apr 2020

Food + Drink Summer

Let yourself relax this summer with the perfect summer drink –  celebrate with a glass of sparkling wine, just the way you like it

We’ve all stood in front of the sparkling wine selection in the supermarket, comparing the price and getting confused by the various terms. You’ve heard of champagne, but it’s always more expensive than you remember. And are prosecco and cava the same? We’re here to dispel the confusion around sparkling wine so you can celebrate with all the fizz and none of the stress.

Location

The easiest way to tell the difference between Cava, Champagne and Prosecco is the country they’re from; even if they are similar in taste and style, they are named according to the specific area they were produced.

Cava can be from anywhere in Spain, but the over 95% is produced in the north-eastern Catalonia region, and Prosecco only can only earn its name if it was made in the Italian regions of Veneto or Friuli. Champagne has many strict rules on location and production, and it can only be labelled champagne if it was produced in the Champagne region of France.

Grapes

Just as wines are named by the type of grape used in their production, only specific grapes can be used to create the three types of sparkling wine we’re looking at today. Champagne uses a mixture of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, which adds an element of fruitiness to the drink. Prosecco uses a lighter grape called Glera, which results in a floral, fragrant aroma. Like Champagne, Cava blends three grapes; Zarello, Pareallada and Macabeo, but other grape varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Subirat can also be used.

Method

Another difference between the three drinks is the way in which the bubbles are created within the wine. In fact, Cava and Champagne use the same method, which involves creating a still white wine and bottling it with yeast and sugar. This, when left to ferment, will form fine, delicate bubbles, but it is a costly method, requiring additional ingredients and more time. Although the method is the same, it is named differently, as the Champenoise method can only be called as such if it occurs in the Champagne region, so the method used for Cava is often called Traditionelle instead.

Prosecco uses the Charmat Method, which is simpler and cheaper than the method used for Cava and Champagne. Instead of adding extra ingredients in the bottle, prosecco is left in a pressurised tank where it will ferment and form bubbles. These bubbles are larger and the foam is frothier than the previous two sparkling wines.

In terms of ageing, Champagne is kept in the bottle for a minimum of 15 months and Cava for at least nine months. However, Prosecco has no yeast to ferment and can be drunk as soon as it is bottled!

Which one should I drink?

It’s up to you! If you’re worried about price, you can often find cheaper Proseccos because they don’t have to be aged, but a good Cava can also be found for around the same price. If you prefer a sweeter sparkling wine, then both Champagne and Cava have the option of demi-sec/semi seco (semi-dry) or doux/dolce (sweet), whereas prosecco is only found as a drier, zestier summer drink.

Why not try our house Prosecco, made in the foothills of the stunning Dolomite mountains? Refreshing, zesty and fruity, it’s the perfect sparkling wine for a celebration or just to pop open on a summer’s day for an indulgent tipple. We like to nibble on some white or milk chocolate to complement its full-bodied flavours, or use it in a sparkling wine cocktail – check out our blog on the best summer drinks for more inspiration!