Whether it be for celebrating Christmas or New Year’s Eve, it’s good to have a variety of bubbly on hand to make the celebration truly special.
What is the difference between champagne, sparkling wine, cava and Prosecco?
There are many differences, but two important ones are location and grapes. Champagne can only come from the region of Champagne in north-eastern France and is usually made with chardonnay, pinot noir and/or meunier.
Cava comes from Spain and, although it can also use chardonnay and pinot noir, it is traditionally made using native grapes such as parellada and xarel-lo.
Prosecco comes from the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy and uses a grape called glera.
Sparkling wine is a very broad term that encompasses any wine with bubbles. Even Champagne is a ‘sparkling wine’ but, importantly, not all sparkling wine is Champagne.
How are they made differently?
Cava and Champagne must be made using the Traditional Method – the method that creates the most serious bubbles and wines that can age for the longest time. This involves the wine going through a second fermentation process (after the alcohol fermentation) inside the bottle, so the carbon dioxide sinks back into the wine, making it fizzy.
Prosecco is produced using the Charmat Method. Here, a large body of wine goes through second fermentation in tanks, rather than in individual bottles, and then the wines are bottled under pressure. Wines that use the Charmat Method are designed to be enjoyed while they’re young.
The French 75 is an old favorite in the cocktail scene. It is one of the most popular Champagne drinks you will find.
The French 75 was created sometime around World War I and was named after the 75mm M1897 artillery gun used by the French military. American GI’s caught on to the drink and brought it home. It was at New York City’s famous Stork Club that the French 75 really became a hit. It surely has been with us ever since.
At some point in its early history, this drink was made with Cognac in place of the gin. Gin remains the most popular base for the French 75, though there are now countless ways to make it.
The original French 75 contained:
- 1 or 2 ounces gin (depending on your taste)
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 4 ounces Champagne
Today we gave it a fresh update by using a scoop of lemon sorbet in place of the lemon juice and simple syrup. It was delicious!
Champagne with a hint of rosemary syrup and blackberries topped with fresh rosemary not only tastes fantastic but it just looks festive and smells wonderful as you sip.
A simple sugared rim with Champagne poured over a shot of Chambord has been my favorite for decades.
Get the party started with Prosecco and cotton candy. Something magical happens when the cotton candy melts into the bubbles.
A rosemary tree is a great holiday resource for garnishes. My friends Mai at AlmondAndFig.com, Margaret Rajic (amazing wedding and lifestyle photographer at MargaretRajic.com) and her amazing Mom, Dragana Rajic (who possesses mad baking skills), came by to help. We had a great day styling appetizers and sampling all these Champagne cocktails. I think I speak for all of us when I say there is no bad choice listed here.