What's the Difference Between Champagne, Prosecco & Cava? (2023)

When given the choice, I almost always would like a glass of sparkling wine to drink. (Well... unless I want a Manhattan.)

But while I am an enthusiastic appreciator and I extend my love to virtually any wine with bubbles, sparkling wine is by no means a single thing. It’s an umbrella category, and though we often speak of different types of sparkling wine in the same breath, there are differences in how they are produced, the grapes they use, and how they taste.

Let’s look just at the big three widely known sparkling wines: Champagne, Prosecco, and cava.

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Champagne

Champagne

Any discussion of sparkling wine simply must begin with la grande dame, Champagne.

Shop the Story

People often call any sparkling wine Champagne, but in reality, only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. It must be made from Pinot Noir (a blanc de noirs is a Champagne made predominantly from Pinot Noir grapes), Pinot Meunier, or Chardonnay (blanc de blanc is made from Chardonnay), and is most often a blend of all three.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:

“I could not agree more with you on the price you allow yourself to a champagne bottle. That being said, for a very affordable price, i suggest the "mumm napa" house for a great méthode traditionnelle bottle. Both classic and rosé are excellent. ”

— Cat H.

Comment

(Video) Champagne, Prosecco, Sparkling wine What are the differences?

Champagne is produced by méthode champenoise. This method is said to have been fortuitously invented by a certain monk called Dom Perignon and refined by the widow (veuve) Cliquot. Both of these names should be familiar to any Champagne enthusiast (or even non-enthusiast) because they are still the two most famed houses of Champagne.

Carey Nershi's Angostura Sugar Cubes for Champagne Cocktails

Méthode champenoise involves adding more yeast and sugar to a base of wine, then bottling the wine for a second fermentation. During this process, the wine sits on the dying yeast and sediment that forms, called the lees, and the bottle is gradually tipped and spun so that all the lees collect in the neck of the bottle. The bottle is then flash-frozen, the lees are popped out, and the bottle is sealed again, to be popped once more at a wedding, or engagement, or housewarming, or some other important occasion.

Due to the lengthy process of sitting on the lees, Champagne takes on richness and complexity and its signature biscuit-y or yeasty notes. And, while some styles of Champagne are crisp with notes of lemon, apples, and flint, fine champagnes frequently become bold with flavors of toasted brioche, roasted fruit, and toffee.

My personal rule is to never to buy Champagne unless I’m less I’m planning to spring for something starting around $40. It may just be the bottles I’ve encountered, but in my experience, while high-end Champagnes are one of life’s great pleasures, inexpensive Champagnes are less pleasant to drink than equivalently-priced, or even much cheaper, Proseccos and cavas.

Prosecco: More Than Just an Aperitivo

Prosecco

Prosecco is Italy’s most widely known sparkling wine. For many years, it played a second fiddle to Champagne because much of the Prosecco available just wasn’t good. But fine Proseccos have become more widely available, and it now runs neck and neck with Champagne for popularity.

Prosecco is made in the Veneto region of Italy (the same region that gave us the glorious Aperol spritz, from a varietal of grape called Glera.

The production method of Prosecco is notably different from Champagne or Cava in that the secondary fermentation that gives bubbly wine its fizz happens in steel tanks rather than in bottles. This impacts the flavor notably, making it lighter and less yeasty. Prosecco can tend to be a little sweeter than Champagne or Cava, with bigger loser bubbles and buoyant flavors of apple, pear, lemon rind, light flowers, and even tropical fruit.

A dry Prosecco is my go-to for many sparkling cocktails because it doesn’t fight with the flavors of spirits and other modifiers.

Gin Spritz
(Video) Champagne, Cava and Prosecco: What's the Difference?

Cava

Cava is Spain’s most notable contribution to the world of sparkling wine, and a most excellent contribution it is. Cava is usually made with a few grape varietals that you probably haven’t ever heard of—Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarello—though it can also be made from Chardonnay or Pinot grapes.

Though you’ll mostly see Cava at a price point similar to Prosecco, it’s actually more similar to Champagne in character and production. Like Champagne, the effervescence-producing secondary fermentation happens in the bottle (rather than a tank), but outside of the French region, the method cannot be called méthode champenoise and is instead known as méthode traditionnelle. (One reason—besides the name recognition and global demand that inflates Champagne's price point—that cava is more reasonably priced is that the Spanish have mechanized the process of tirage, the rotating and tipping of the bottles during the secondary fermentation; in France, on the other hand, it is often still done by hand.)

But since doesn’t sit on the lees for as long, Cava is lighter in style than longer-aged Champagnes. Instead of toffee and biscuit notes, Cava will hit you with balanced citrus, melon, pear, and a pleasant acidity. Because Cava is made in the same style as Champagne, it’s a great bet for the times when you wish for Champagne but you do not wish to spend $40 or (potentially much) more.

Yes, There Are Sparkling Red Wines That Taste Good

Other Sparkling Wines

Of course, Champagne, Prosecco, and cava are just the very beginning of the range of sparkling wines that exist. Almost every wine-producing region makes styles that are sparkling.

In many of these regions, however, there aren’t specific regulations about grape varietals or production methods, so you can’t make broad statements—for example, you can certainly find American sparkling wines made using the méthode traditionelle and Chardonnay grapes just like a French blanc de blancs, but the next American sparkler you look at will just as likely be something entirely different. That said, they’re very fun to explore.

Good BubblyDrinks

1. Cockney Champagne Cocktail

This drink is as simple as it gets: floral, fragrant gin; bracing lemon juice; and sweet simple syrup are buoyed by the slightly yeasty, very bubbly nip of Champagne.

Cockney Champagne Cocktail

2. Champagne cocktail

A recipe that does exactly what it says on the tin. It's all champagne, all the time—plus a cube of sugar, a twist of lemon, and a dash of Angostura bitters. (That's it! That's the cocktail.)

Champagne Cocktail
(Video) The Alternatives to Champagne: Prosecco Vs Cava Vs Champagne

3. Carey Nershi's Angostura Sugar Cubes For Champagne Cocktails

For an anytime version of the cocktail above, make these super-simple, oh-so-giftable Angostura cubes and watch them dissolve like magic in a flute of Champagne. A twist of lemon is always welcomed here, too.

Carey Nershi's Angostura Sugar Cubes for Champagne Cocktails

4. Pomelder Prosecco Punch

Sweet elderflower liqueur, spicy ginger, warming cardamom, and dry sparkling wine make for the perfect fall-meets-winter tipple.

Pomelder Prosecco Punch

5. Aperol Spritz

Ah, the Aperol spritz—a drink we love to love, and love to hate, and regardless of what camp we're in, love to drink anyway. It signals summer no matter what time of year you make it.

Aperol Spritz

6. Voilà L'Été: The French 75

Heavy on the gin but lightened up with citrus and sparkling wine, the French 75 is a highly drinkable tipple without being too syrupy-sweet.

Voilà l'Été: The French 75
(Video) Champagne v Prosecco - The 5 main differences

7. Our Best Classic Mimosa

A mimosa seems so basic it doesn't need a recipe, but this one's our best, so trust us here. A little pinch of sea salt will prevent it from being cloying.

Our Best Classic Mimosa

8. Sgroppino (Lemon Sorbet Cocktail)

A cocktail fit for Venetian royalty—and for you, too. Just combine sweet-tart lemon sorbet and Prosecco, stir, and drink up.

Sgroppino (Lemon Sorbet Cocktail)

9. Strawberry Juice & a Champagne Cocktail

Champagne and strawberries are an age-old duo. Why not try them in this summer-happy drink? As Merrill Stubbs, our co-founder and the recipe's developer, says, don't use your fanciest bottle of champers here, but anything too cheap and cheerful will surely give you a headache!

Strawberry Juice and a Champagne Cocktail

10. Pom Fizz

In other dynamic-duo news, extra-concentrated pomegranate juice mixes and mingles with Prosecco (or another one of your favorite sparkling white wines) to create a simple but stunning drink.

Pom Fizz
(Video) A Guide To Sparkling Wine - What's the difference between Champagne, Cava, Crémant, & Prosecco?

What's your preferred bottle o' bubbly? Share with us in the comments!

FAQs

Is Cava Prosecco or Champagne? ›

By law, Cava must be produced in the traditional, or Champagne, method, whereas Prosecco is almost always produced using the tank, or Charmat, method.

Are Prosecco and Champagne the same thing? ›

“The short and easy answer when it comes to the difference between sparkling wines is simple. Wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France, whereas Prosecco is a sparkling wine mostly made in the Veneto region, Italy.

What is the difference between Prosecco and Cava? ›

Prosecco, the sparkling wine that's most commonly found in your brunch mimosas, is Italian. Prosecco differs from cava and Champagne slightly because it is not fermented in the bottle; instead, it's fermented in giant metal vats, which is called the charmat method.

What's the difference between Champagne and Cava? ›

What are sparkling wines? They are white wines that contain natural carbon dioxide gas, i.e. produced by a second fermentation. Both are made from a blend of three different grapes: champagne from two red grapes and one white grape, and cava from two white grapes and one red grape.

What is best Prosecco or cava? ›

Prosecco is now by far the best-selling sparkling wine globally, far outstripping the sales of champagne and cava. In our view, and we would say this wouldn't we, the complexity and flavours inherent in a good cava are generally superior to those in prosecco.

Which is sweeter Prosecco or cava? ›

Prosecco can tend to be a little sweeter than Champagne or Cava, with bigger loser bubbles and buoyant flavors of apple, pear, lemon rind, light flowers, and even tropical fruit. A dry Prosecco is my go-to for many sparkling cocktails because it doesn't fight with the flavors of spirits and other modifiers.

Is Prosecco just cheap Champagne? ›

The price points for Champagne and prosecco differ in part because of their methods of production. Because Champagne requires a more hands-on and money-intensive process, it's generally more expensive than prosecco. A bottle of Champagne starts at around $40 whereas a bottle of prosecco can be as low as $12.

Why is Cava cheaper than Champagne? ›

Cost of growing grapes

Both Champagne and Cava come from grapes, and in some cases they come from the same grapes. So why the lower Cava prices? Essentially, it costs a lot more to grow grapes for Champagne than for Cava. For a start, the cost of land within the prestigious Champagne appellation is higher than ever.

What's better Champagne or Prosecco? ›

In the legendary “Champagne vs Prosecco” debate, there is no clear winner. Both types of wine offer its own unique flavors, carbonation, aromas and tasting experience. If you are new to the world of wines, consider purchasing a bottle or two of each kind to help you decide which one you prefer.

Why is cava not Champagne? ›

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. Cava contains a blend of Xarello, Parellada and Macabeo grapes, presenting fresh, zesty and floral notes.

Why do people drink cava? ›

The kava drink is often used for sedative, hypnotic and muscle-relaxant effects, in much the same way that alcohol is used.

Which is better for mimosas cava or Prosecco? ›

Unlike cava and champagne, prosecco—from the Veneto region in Italy—is fermented in giant stainless-steel tanks. This "charmat" method results in bigger bubbles, and Zonin is known for its almond and citrus hints that make it an ideal choice for a mimosa.

Is Prosecco more expensive than cava? ›

A Difference in Price

Due to the fact that the fermentation process for champagne and cava tends to be more expensive compared to prosecco wine, this also makes the latter more affordable on the market.

What's the difference between Prosecco and Brut? ›

When it comes to both Champagne and Prosecco, the term “brut” means that the wine is very dry — or, in other words, that there is very little sugar left in the wine. It's the kind of sparkling wine that makes your mouth water.

Is cava Champagne sweet or dry? ›

The most common style of Cava is Brut (meaning dry), although there are even dryer styles with zero sugar added in the dosage, as well as sweeter dessert Cavas.

What has more sugar Prosecco or Champagne? ›

Champagne and Prosecco both have the same dryness/sweetness scale and labels. Champagne and Prosecco have seven key levels of sweetness: brut nature, extra brut, brut, extra dry, dry, demi-sec, and doux.

Is Brut the same thing as Champagne? ›

Champagne is classified by sweetness. Brut, which means "dry, raw, or unrefined," in French, is the driest (meaning the least sweet) classification of Champagne. To be considered Brut, the Champagne must be made with less than 12 grams of added sugar per liter. Brut Champagne is the most common style of sparkling wine.

Does Prosecco pop like Champagne? ›

When we uncork a Prosecco or a Champagne, both bottles make a slight pop. When poured out, both wines develop bubbles. However, the differences between Champagne and Prosecco are huge, so let's take a more detailed look at them.

What is the very best Prosecco? ›

  • Best Overall: Fascino Organic Prosecco. ...
  • Best for Brunch: Scarpetta Prosecco. ...
  • Best for Mimosas: Tiamo Organic Prosecco. ...
  • Best Budget: Alberto Nani Organic Prosecco. ...
  • Best for Weeknight Bubbles: Sommariva Prosecco Superiore Brut. ...
  • Best for Happy Hour: Valdo Cuvee 1926 Prosecco Superiore. ...
  • Best for Parties: Botter Per Ora Prosecco.

Which cava is best for mimosas? ›

So, what's the best sparkling wine for mimosas?
  • Best Cava: Borrasca Brut Cava.
  • Best Prosecco: La Vostra Prosecco.
  • Best Sparkling Wine: Jacqueline Leonne Brut.
  • Best Champagne: Montaudon Brut.
  • Best Value: Rondel Brut Cava.
8 Nov 2021

Can you use cava for mimosas? ›

Sparkling Wine

For mimosas, opt for less-expensive Cava or Prosecco. Cava is from Spain and Prosecco is from Italy, but they're both delicious dry sparkling wines that mix well with juice.

Can you get tipsy on Prosecco? ›

Promoted Stories. Scientists have proven that 'prosecco drunk' is a real thing - and it's all down to the bubbles. Studies have shown that fizzy, alcoholic drinks like Champagne, prosecco and Cava get you drunk faster. This is because the bubbles help to move the alcohol into your stomach and bloodstream quicker.

Why is Champagne called Prosecco? ›

The quick answer is simple: wine can only be called Champagne when it originates from the Champagne region in France. Prosecco is from Italy.

Can you drink Prosecco straight? ›

As it's only moderate in alcohol volume, served straight, you could drink Prosecco all day! It works beautifully with food however so beyond pre-dinner nibbles, try it with oysters or a more substantial grazing platter for entrée.

Is cava owned by Mcdonalds? ›

Cava is owned by Cava Group, which also owns Zoës Kitchen. The combined company is the largest restaurant operator in the Mediterranean category in the U.S. restaurant industry.

Is cava or Brut sweeter? ›

If you are looking for a sweeter sparkling wine, you will surely like Brut cava more, such as Anna de Codorníu Blanc de Blancs Reserva, which has just the right amount of sweetness. On the contrary, if you want a drink a bit more bitter, but without exaggeration, you will love Extra Brut, like Mont-Ferrant Gran Cuvée.

Why does cava taste good? ›

The use of three different grapes in the process of making cava gives the wine a unique taste that many have wrongly compared to champagne in the past. Cava wines are often accompanied by citrusy and zesty flavours with hints of baked apple and nuttiness.

What gets you more drunk Champagne or Prosecco? ›

Average Alcohol content of Prosecco:

So already, if we are drinking either then we must place Champagne ahead of Prosecco in getting you drunk faster purely because it edges things on the alcohol content.

What does Prosecco do to your body? ›

Prosecco contains polyphenols, which are plant chemicals loaded with antioxidant properties. These polyphenols assist in lowering blood pressure and improving circulation, which lowers your risk of stroke and strengthens the health of your heart.

Does Prosecco have the same alcohol content as Champagne? ›

The strength of prosecco is usually around 12%, which means that it contains 12% pure alcohol. That's around the same amount of alcohol typically found in other sparkling wines, like champagne or cava.

What are the bubbles in Prosecco? ›

Prosecco - In Prosecco, the 'tank method', where fermentation happens in a large tank, is most often used for the second fermentation process. Yeast and sugar are added to the base wine in a large tank. The tank is sealed and carbon dioxide forms, creating the - bubbles.

Is Prosecco dry or sweet? ›

Prosecco Taste Is it sweet or dry? Most Prosecco wines are produced in a dry, brut style. However, due to the grapes' fruity flavors of green apple, honeydew melon, pear, and honeysuckle, it usually seems sweeter than it is.

Can you substitute cava for Prosecco? ›

Substitute For Prosecco

Look for one labeled "Brut" which indicates a dry wine. OR - Use Spanish Cava but it will be fruity, less dry. OR - A dry French Champagne. OR - For a no-alcohol option, for mocktails or other beverages use plain soda water.

Why does Cava give me a headache? ›

Unsurprisingly, the alcohol content in Champagne is what delivers the skull-shattering headaches. When you drink Champagne -- or any other type of alcohol -- the hormone that balances your internal hydration is suppressed. So, you end up peeing a lot more. This leads to dehydration.

What is Cava called in English? ›

The Spanish word cava (feminine, plural cavas, although Cava the wine is masculine) means "cave" or "cellar", as caves were used in the early days of cava production for the preservation or aging of wine. Spanish winemakers officially adopted the term in 1970 to distinguish their product from French champagne.

Is Cava more dry than Prosecco? ›

Originating from Spain, Cava is usually drier than Prosecco and much closer to Champagne in terms of flavor although it lacks the biscuit/brioche notes, making it less complex. Like Prosecco, it costs much less than Champagne and can often be had for around $10 per bottle.

Does Prosecco get you more drunk than wine? ›

Prosecco wine, like all other sparkling wines, contains carbon dioxide, which stimulates better circulation and higher absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. So, even drinking 12.5% ABV Prosecco will result in a higher blood alcohol level than drinking a still wine of the same alcohol level.

Is Prosecco just Italian Champagne? ›

they're from different locations: Champagne is from France, Prosecco is from Italy; they use different grape varieties: Champagne uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Prosecco used the Glera grape; they use different methods for getting the bubbles into the sparkling wine.

Is Prosecco The Champagne of Italy? ›

Italian vs French Wine Regions

The most widely-known difference between Champagne and Prosecco is that Champagne is from the Champagne Region of France while Prosecco is from the Prosecco Region of Italy. The Champagne wine region surrounds the towns of Reims and Épernay in the northeast of France.

How do you drink cava? ›

Everyone knows that Cavas should be consumed chilled. Although this is a drink which tolerates low temperatures, care must be taken in order to enjoy its full complexity. Cava de Guarda, which has the shortest aging time, is served coldest, at around 8ºC, to highlight its vibrancy and freshness.

Is cava sparkling wine Champagne? ›

Cava is Spanish sparkling wine.

Cava is made the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes. Let's find out what Cava is and what makes it unique. You'll be surprised to know that Cava is far closer to Champagne (in terms of taste) than Prosecco.

What kind of liquor is cava? ›

“Cava” is just a Catalan word for “cave” or “cellar.” And while it may not sound fancy, this Spanish sparkling wine has become the go-to drink for celebrations across Spain and around the world. Cava is Spain's best-known sparkling wine, produced mainly in the region of Catalonia.

Is cava or Prosecco better for mimosas? ›

Unlike cava and champagne, prosecco—from the Veneto region in Italy—is fermented in giant stainless-steel tanks. This "charmat" method results in bigger bubbles, and Zonin is known for its almond and citrus hints that make it an ideal choice for a mimosa.

Why is cava cheaper than Champagne? ›

Cost of growing grapes

Both Champagne and Cava come from grapes, and in some cases they come from the same grapes. So why the lower Cava prices? Essentially, it costs a lot more to grow grapes for Champagne than for Cava. For a start, the cost of land within the prestigious Champagne appellation is higher than ever.

Which is better Champagne or Prosecco? ›

In the legendary “Champagne vs Prosecco” debate, there is no clear winner. Both types of wine offer its own unique flavors, carbonation, aromas and tasting experience. If you are new to the world of wines, consider purchasing a bottle or two of each kind to help you decide which one you prefer.

What does cava mean in Champagne? ›

Fun fact: Originally Cava was known as “Spanish Champagne”, but in 1970 winemakers adopted the term “Cava” (which means “cave” or “cellar” in Spanish) to differentiate themselves from French Champagne. Today almost 250 million bottles of Cava are produced every year.

Do Cava and Prosecco taste the same? ›

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.

Why do people drink Cava? ›

The kava drink is often used for sedative, hypnotic and muscle-relaxant effects, in much the same way that alcohol is used.

Does Prosecco have more alcohol than Champagne? ›

Does prosecco have more alcohol or calories than other types of wine? The strength of prosecco is usually around 12%, which means that it contains 12% pure alcohol. That's around the same amount of alcohol typically found in other sparkling wines, like champagne or cava.

Videos

1. Champagne vs Prosecco vs Cava: What's the difference?
(Wine Scribes TV)
2. Champagne Explained: The difference between Sparkling Wines|Champagne | Cava | Prosecco | California
(Spill The Wine)
3. Champagne, Prosecco, Cava & other Sparkling Wines: What's the Difference?
(Pinot Squirrel)
4. Blind Tasting Champagne/Prosecco/Cava - Can A Wine Guy Tell The Difference?
(Wine Diplomat)
5. Prosecco VS Champagne (differences between PROSECCO and CHAMPAGNE)
(Sommelier Michele Orbolato)
6. Battle of the Bubbles: Prosecco, Cava & Champagne | Amelia Singer | Jamie Oliver's Drinks Tube
(Jamie Oliver - Drinks)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. An Powlowski

Last Updated: 03/08/2023

Views: 6213

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. An Powlowski

Birthday: 1992-09-29

Address: Apt. 994 8891 Orval Hill, Brittnyburgh, AZ 41023-0398

Phone: +26417467956738

Job: District Marketing Strategist

Hobby: Embroidery, Bodybuilding, Motor sports, Amateur radio, Wood carving, Whittling, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Prof. An Powlowski, I am a charming, helpful, attractive, good, graceful, thoughtful, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.