The Difference between Champagne, Prosecco and Cava

Are you choosing a sparkling wine to send as a gift to a wine lover? Sparkling wine makes for a great celebratory gift for enthusiasts, and there are several choices to choose from. You may be confused when deciding between Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava.

This article will run you through everything you need to know about these sparkling wines before heading out to your local wine supplier.


Origins

These three sparkling wines come from different places. 

Champagne, in particular, needs to come from the Champagne region of north-eastern France for it to be legally called Champagne.

Ninety-five per cent of Cava comes from the Penedès area of Catalonia in north-eastern Spain. The Sant Sadurní d’Anoia in Penedès is also known as the “Capital of Cava.”

Prosecco comes from the regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia in north-eastern Italy.

While they are all variations of sparkling wine, they come from different locations all over the world, which means they also differ significantly in the grapes used and their processes.


Grapes Used

Champagne is limited to three grape varieties: pinot noir, meunier, and chardonnay grapes. This makes for the consistent taste and quality of Champagne.

Cava is traditionally made from xarel-lo, macabeo, and parellada grapes, but they can also contain pinot noir and chardonnay, depending on the manufacturer.

Prosecco gets its name from the prosecco grapes (now called glera grape) it is made of. Up to 15 per cent of its volume may also be from other grapes such as pinot grigio, chardonnay and verdiso.


How They Are Processed

The processing of Champagne is a method called “méthode champenoise”, which involves a fermentation process and an in-bottle fermentation. This means the Champagne goes through fermentation twice: the usual process, and then it is fermented in the bottle to fully develop its flavours and to form carbonation.

Champagne ages the longest out of these three wines to obtain the best aromas and flavours. This can range anywhere from two to ten years.

Cava goes through a similar double fermentation process called “el método tradicional.” However, Cava is aged for a minimum of 9 months to 36 months only.

Unlike the other two, Prosecco is usually made with a bulk method called Charmat. It is blended and fermented similar to the first two, but the second fermentation is carried out in a large, pressurised steel tank instead of the ageing process in the bottle. Prosecco is filtered to remove any impurities before bottling and is best consumed young.


Taste

Champagne can taste and smell like many different things, but its lengthy ageing process can give it the rich and complex notes of yeast, biscuit and brioche. It also has fine and more persistent bubbles compared to the other two.

Cava is more likely to have more non-fruit flavours and minerality compared to Prosecco. Its flavour is known for balanced citrus notes and hints of pear. Its bubbles are also fine and persistent like Champagne, but they are often lighter. 

Prosecco has bigger and less persistent bubbles with a lighter, less yeasty taste. Its flavour is described as simpler, sweeter, and more fruit-driven. It may have the flavour profile of apple, pear, lemons and even tropical fruits.

 

Sparkling wines such as Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco differ significantly in origins, production and taste. The various choices of sparkling wines may be confusing at first, but they sure do make a great celebratory gift for wine lovers. 

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