Champagne or prosecco, can you tell the difference?

Champagne may be the go-to drink for the upper echelon, but prosecco is no poor alternative. They are both sparkling wines, well, because they sparkle.

You may think there is little difference between the two bottles of bubbly, but there are a number of distinct differences. For starters, champagne is French and the prosecco is Italian. Fret not, you don’t have to be a wine snob to be able to tell the difference. Join us and we will help you get the right bottle.

French or Italian?


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Champagne is only champagne if it comes from the northeast region in France, Champagne. It is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. The drink is fermented in special caves in the right weather conditions before they turn into the much-loved drink.

Prosecco is from the Veneto region of Italy, just north of Venice. It may not be considered to be a luxury drink like champagne (though some proud Italians may disagree), it is just as nice. It can be sparkling, semi-sparkling, or still. Prosecco is made from glera grapes, but other types of grapes can be added.

How do they get bubbly?

Both champagne and prosecco go through double fermentation. The second fermentation is needed for carbonation, to make the drink bubbly.

Champagne goes through the second fermentation known as Méthode Traditionelle or Méthode Champenoise. It is done in the same bottle that it will be served, making it more expensive.

Prosecco, on the other hand, goes through the second fermentation in a stainless-steel tank, a method known as the Charmat method. The process takes less time and money.

Flavour notes

Champagne has a complex taste profile, often with hints of citrus, apple, peach, honey, white flowers, cherry and raspberry. The fruity flavour is dependent on the type of grape used. There may be a yeasty taste, due to the additional time the wine spends with yeast during the second fermentation. This leaves a hint of toast or biscuits in champagne.

Prosecco is sweeter and has flavours of green apples, citrus and white flowers. It is usually light and delicate and not exceedingly complex, as it undergoes a maturation of only about 6 months compared to champagne’s average of two years.

Best paired with

The dry and tangy taste of champagne is best paired with food that is salty. Think bites like clams or oysters or even pickled or vinegary morsels.

The sweeter prosecco goes well with more hearty and savoury fares like meat and sweet fruits. Truth be told, prosecco pairs well with almost everything!

Recommended for you: How to enjoy champagne like a true French


Prosecco is more affordable of the two. A decent bottle would cost anywhere from RM145 onwards. A bottle of champagne, on the other hand, can set you back RM400.

A word of caution: do ensure the bottle of bubbly you hold is champagne before calling it so. Big names like Perrier, Yves Saint Laurent and Miller beer have been sued for using the ‘Champagne’ name indiscriminately for marketing purposes.

Keep in mind, all champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne.

Images: Stock photos