What Is The Differences Between Prosecco and Champagne?

Photo of author

By: Tom Valenti


Prosecco and Champagne are two of the most popular sparkling wines around. They both possess a lively, effervescent quality that makes them perfect for celebrations and special occasions. However, there are some key differences that any wine enthusiast should be aware of.

This blog post explores the main differences between Prosecco and Champagne, including their production methods, grape varieties, taste and characteristics, sweetness levels, and price points. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right sparkling wine for any occasion, from a casual brunch with friends to a formal black-tie event.


What is Prosecco?

What is Prosecco

Prosecco is a sparkling white wine made from Glera grapes grown in the Veneto region of Italy. The Prosecco production process involves a secondary fermentation in large steel tanks, which gives the wine its signature crisp and light flavor. It typically has an alcohol content of around 11 percent and a low level of sweetness.

What is Champagne?

What is Champagne

Champagne is a type of sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes are grown in the Champagne region of France. Only wines produced in this region using specific production methods can be labeled as Champagne.

This production process involves a secondary fermentation in sealed and stored bottles for up to three years before being released on the market, giving the wine high levels of complexity and a wide range of flavor notes. It usually has an alcohol content of around 12 percent and can be either sweet or dry.

What Are the Differences Between Prosecco and Champagne?

1. Origin

Prosecco is primarily produced in the Veneto region of Italy, which has a long grape growing and wine production history. Glera grape – the primary grape used to produce Prosecco, has been grown in this region for centuries, and the first records of Prosecco being produced in this region date back to the 16th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that Prosecco started to gain popularity outside of Italy.

Champagne, on the other hand, is produced exclusively in the Champagne region of France, which has a long and rich history of producing wine. The region’s unique climate and soil, as well as the traditional method of production, have made Champagne one of the world’s most well-known and celebrated sparkling wines. The production of Champagne dates back to the 17th century, and the wine has been a symbol of luxury and celebration for centuries.

Both Prosecco and Champagne are protected by law, and only wines produced in their respective regions using specific production methods can be labeled as Prosecco or Champagne. The region of production is an important factor in determining the taste, quality, and characteristics of these sparkling wines. The differences in climate, soil, grape varieties and production methods used in these regions all contribute to the unique characteristics and flavor profiles of Prosecco and Champagne.

2. Production Methods

Prosecco is typically made using the Charmat method, also known as the tank method. After the grapes are harvested and pressed, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks. A mixture of yeast and sugar is added to the base wine, and a second fermentation occurs in the tank, producing carbon dioxide and creating bubbles in the wine. After the secondary fermentation is complete, the wine is filtered, bottled, and ready to be consumed. This method is faster and less expensive than the traditional method used to produce Champagne, and it results in a wine that is typically lighter, fruitier, and more floral in character.

In contrast, Champagne is produced using the traditional method, also known as the méthode champenoise. After the grapes are harvested and pressed, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then bottled with a mixture of yeast and sugar, which triggers a second fermentation in the bottle.

The bottles are stored horizontally in a cool cellar, and the wine is aged for a minimum of 15 months, sometimes several years, during which time it develops complex flavors and aromas. The wine is then disgorged, which involves removing the yeast sediment that has settled in the bottle, and a mixture of sugar and wine is added to adjust the sweetness level.

The wine is then corked and ready to be sold. This traditional method results in a wine that is typically more complex, toasty, and biscuity in character, with a fine and persistent mousse.

3. Grapes Varieties and Sweetness

Prosecco can be either brut (dry) or extra dry, with a residual sugar content ranging from 0.2 to 2.0 percent. It is made using the Glera grape as well as small amounts of other grape varieties such as Bianchetta Trevigiana, Verdiso, and Perera.

Champagne is typically classified based on sweetness levels, with the most common being brut (dry), extra dry, sec (medium sweet), and demi-sec (sweet). Champagne is typically made using a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, although some producers also use Pinot Meunier. In addition to these three traditional grape varieties, other grapes, such as Pinot Blanc and Arbane, may be used in the blend.

4. Taste and Characteristics

Prosecco is usually light and fruity, with floral aromas and pear, apple, lemon, melon, peach, honey, and jasmine flavors. It also has hints of almond and mineral notes on the palate. It is typically light-bodied and refreshing with a crisp acidity and moderate bubbles.

Champagne is a more complex and refined sparkling wine with aromas and flavors of yeast, bread dough, brioche, honey, toasted nuts, almond paste, and citrus. It also has mineral notes as well as hints of white flowers and toast. Champagne is full-bodied and creamy on the palate with a persistent mousse, vibrant acidity, and complex flavor profile. The bubbles are fine and elegant, with excellent longevity in the glass.

5. Serving Way

Prosecco and Champagne are typically served at different temperatures and in different types of glasses.

Prosecco is best served chilled, at a temperature of around 45-50°F (7-10°C), and is usually served in a tall and narrow flute glass. The flute glass helps to preserve the wine’s bubbles and allows the aromas to develop.

Champagne is also best served chilled, at a temperature of around 45-50°F (7-10°C), and is typically served in a wider and more open tulip-shaped glass, known as a Champagne glass or coupe. This type of glass allows the aromas to develop and allows the wine to breathe, enhancing its flavor and complexity.

6. Food Pairings

Another factor to consider when choosing between Champagne and Prosecco is what dishes each pair best with. Luckily, Prosecco and Champagne pair well with a variety of different foods, although the specific pairings can vary depending on the sweetness level and style of the wine.

Prosecco’s lighter and fruitier character matches lighter dishes such as salads, seafood, appetizers, spicy foods, and desserts. It also pairs well with Asian cuisine and cheese plates. 

Champagne’s more complex and full-bodied character makes it a versatile wine for food pairings, and it can be paired with a range of different dishes, including seafood, poultry, cheese, and desserts. Champagne’s acidity can help cut through rich and fatty foods, making it a good match for dishes such as foie gras and fried foods.

7. Price

The last thing to consider when deciding between Champagne and Prosecco is the price. In general, prices for both types of sparkling wines can vary greatly depending on the producer and level of quality. However, in general, Prosecco tends to have a lower price point than Champagne due to its faster production time.

On average, a good quality Prosecco can cost between $10 and $30 per bottle, although some premium and vintage examples can be more expensive. While Champagne’s prices is ranging from around $30 to several hundred dollars, even millions of dollars per bottle. 

How to Choose Between Prosecco and Champagne?

Choosing between Prosecco and Champagne ultimately comes down to personal preference, and there are a number of factors to consider when making a decision. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Occasion: Prosecco is a great choice for casual gatherings, such as brunches or informal parties, while Champagne is often reserved for more special occasions, such as weddings or anniversaries.
  • Taste: Prosecco is lighter and fruitier, while Champagne is more complex and full-bodied. Consider which style of wine you prefer and what flavors you are looking for.
  • Price: Prosecco is generally less expensive than Champagne, which may be a factor to consider if you are on a budget.
  • Food Pairings: Consider what food you will be serving and which wine will pair best with the menu.
  • Personal preference: At the end of the day, the most important factor is your personal preference. Taste both wines and see which one you enjoy more.

FAQs About Prosecco Vs. Champagne

What Are the Differences Between Prosecco and Champagne?

Prosecco and Champagne are both sparkling wines, but they are made from different grape varieties in different regions and using different production methods. Prosecco is made from the Glera grape in the Veneto region of Italy, while Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes in the Champagne region of France. Prosecco is made using the Charmat method, while Champagne is made using the traditional method.

Is Prosecco Poor Man’s Champagne?

While some people may view Prosecco as a less expensive alternative to Champagne, it is not necessarily accurate to call it a “poor man’s Champagne.”

Which is Better Prosecco or Champagne?

The answer to this question is subjective and comes down to personal preference. Both Prosecco and Champagne offer unique flavors, making them great options for different occasions. Consider what flavors you prefer and the occasion you are celebrating when deciding between the two.

Is Prosecco Sparkling?

Yes, Prosecco is a sparkling wine made using the Charmat method of production. The Charmat process produces smaller bubbles than the traditional method used for Champagne, giving it a lighter and fruitier character.

Can You Cook With Prosecco?

Yes, Prosecco can be used in cooking to add a light and fruity flavor to dishes. It is particularly popular as an ingredient in Italian-inspired recipes such as risottos and pasta dishes.

Is Champagne or Prosecco Better For Mimosas?

When it comes to making mimosas, Prosecco is generally the preferred choice. Its light and fruity flavors balance well with orange juice, creating a refreshing and delicious drink for any occasion.


In conclusion, while Prosecco and Champagne are both sparkling wines, they have distinct differences in origin, production, taste, sweetness, and price. Prosecco is typically lighter, fruitier, and more affordable, while Champagne is more complex, full-bodied, and typically more expensive.

Choosing between the two depends on personal preference, the occasion, and budget. Both wines have their own unique characteristics and appeal, and trying them both is the best way to determine which one you prefer. Whether you choose Prosecco or Champagne, both wines are great for celebrating special moments or simply enjoying with friends and family.

Photo of author

Tom Valenti

Chef/Owner of both Ouest and ‘Cesca, and the Executive Chef of Le Cirque, Alison on Dominick, and Butterfield 81.

Leave a Comment