Prosecco vs Champagne—I bet you didn't even realize this argument existed. These drinks are both white, both bubbly, and both brought out for celebratory events. So, what's the difference? And, more importantly, how do you order them without making a major faux pas at the bar? The differences between these drinks are subtle, but trust me, they are there. Once you brush up on the what's what in the liquor store, popping some bubbly will be a whole lot easier.

The Origin Stories

wine, alcohol, liquor
Tarika Narain

As if you needed more reasons to want to travel to Europe. Prosecco and Champagne come from different areas across this continent, both equally revered for their wines. In short, prosecco is a sparkling white wine from Italy, and Champagne is a sparkling white wine from France.

Each area—Prosecco, Italy and the Champagne region of France, respectively—is renowned for their wines and their grapes. Honestly, you can't go wrong with either option, it's just about how international you're feeling on any given day.

So, What Really Makes Them Different?

berry, grape, juice, pasture, sweet, wine
Kristine Mahan

Turns out, when it comes to prosecco vs Champagne, it's all about the grapes. As far as prosecco is concerned, Glera grapes are the way to go. There are a couple different variations within the Glera grape family, but overall, these green grapes ripen late in the season, have a high acidity, and have a neutral flavor palate.

Champagne is a bit more complicated because it uses a blend of three different grapes: the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Each grape adds a lil' something different to your class of Champagne, like aroma, body, and flavor. But you can't have a great glass of Champagne without all three grapes!

How Sparkling Wine Is Made

champagne, wine, toast
Lucy Carlisle

Wine isn't wine without fermentation. The word sounds a bit scary, I know, but "fermentation" is just a fancy term for letting all of the sugar from the grapes ferment out of the drink. To make Champagne, the wine has to go through not only a primary fermentation, but a secondary fermentation as well.

Secondary fermentation occurs entirely in the bottle. Once the wine is sealed in tight, oxygen is inevitably depleted, and the yeast within the wine can't reproduce. In some wines, secondary fermentation is an accident, but in Champagne you want this process to occur.

Champagne is bottled before all of its yeast has died off, and a little bit of unfermented grape is added to help the yeast keep reproducing a little. The reproducing yeast traps carbon dioxide in the bottle, making bubbles.

Prosecco, on the other hand, gets its bubbles from the "tank method." Secondary fermentation is still happening, but in a larger tank rather than a bottle, like the name implies.

Many people think this method makes the wine taste fresher and that it gives the wine a more yeasty flavor. Additionally, there's the added bonus of this method being a bit easier—seriously, people say that you can only have real Champagne if the wine is made in Champagne, France.

Can You Taste a Difference?

tea, coffee
Jordan Helms

The aging of each wine along with its acidity and processing definitely makes a difference in taste. Champagne is aged longer, and therefore has finer bubbles and a unique taste. Some people call Champagne "toasty" or "biscuity," and some even say it goes great with potato chips!

Prosecco is generally on the more flowery and fruitier side of the spectrum, in large part thanks to the grapes used to make it. The tank method also provides less pressure on the wine, so the bubbles are lighter. The differences between these two wines really comes down to personal taste.

The prosecco vs Champagne battle is especially important if you consider yourself a connoisseur of sparkling wines—or if you're trying to please a picky dinner date. Fear not, these wines aren't impossible to figure out, and honestly, the biggest difference is in price. Where Champagne clocks in at an average of $52 a bottle, most prosecco costs somewhere around $12 a bottle. But, don't let your wallet be the deciding factor. Each wine has its perks and would be a great choice for your next party!