When it’s time to pop some bubbly — whether for a special occasion, a momentous achievement, or just to tease your taste buds before dinner—you might find yourself wondering whether an expensive bottle of champagne is truly necessary. For centuries, champagne has been synonymous with success and sophistication. Other sparkling wines, however, like prosecco, are every bit as enjoyable. Here’s how prosecco compares to and can be a replacement for champagne.
The simplest difference between prosecco and champagne is that prosecco comes from Italy and champagne comes from France. To zoom in a little more on the map, prosecco is specific to Veneto, Italy, near Venice. Can we actually zoom in once more? There it is, the Valdobbiadene region of Veneto, home to Coda’s vineyard. It’s a beauty. Meanwhile, champagne is exclusive to France’s equally scenic Champagne region, north of Paris.
Totally Different Methods
It’s common to compare prosecco and champagne side by side like we are here, often adding Spain’s cava to the conversation. Although they’re all bubbly sparkling wines from Europe, that doesn’t mean they’re made the same.
Prosecco and champagne require different grapes. Prosecco uses Glera grapes. Champagne calls for any combination of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. That’s just the beginning of their differences. Prosecco gets its pop from a natural second fermentation in tanks, while champagne’s second fermentation happens in the bottle.
The “traditional method” for champagne is also known as méthode champenoise. Food52 explains, “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.”
Priced for the Process
Make no mistake, méthode champenoise is an amazing display of care and craftsmanship, refined by the one and only Dom Perignon himself. It’s the reason why champagne can be so pricey, with some vintage bottles costing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Because prosecco is made in more scalable and affordable fashion, you can buy the best prosecco like Coda for less than a lower-end champagne. “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,” Food52 writes.
Let’s Talk About Taste
Champagne connoisseurs notice hints of bread, biscuit, brioche, almond or toffee brought by the bubbly’s unique interaction with yeast in the bottle. Beneath the fizzy, citrusy surface, the character can be quite complex based on the blend and quality. Prosecco, on the other hand, is meant to be lighter, fruitier and more floral. In prosecco, sip for notes of apple, lemon, pear, honeysuckle and melon. It’s typically sweeter than champagne but can also be on the dry side, where Coda keeps prosecco pure with no added sugars.
Prosecco vs. Champagne: Which is Better?
Is prosecco just cheap champagne? Absolutely not! It comes from a different place, it’s made a different way, and it has a different taste—all at price points naturally lower than champagne.
There’s no denying champagne’s place in culture and celebrations for generations—but don’t sleep on prosecco as an equally lovely bubbly for any occasion. Where champagne is classy, prosecco is cool. And where champagne is fancy, prosecco is fun.