Champagne is a culturally accepted luxury. While there are many bottles of bubbles we consider to be Champs, there can only be one Champagne! But even among the ranks of Champagne wines, there are some major production and quality differences.
I have to get something out of the way first – Champagne is a place, a region of the world, and not a style of wine. There I said it! Sorry to say that “Canadian Champagne” is NOT CHAMPAGNE, Prosecco is also NOT CHAMPAGNE. Sekt, Prosecco, Cava these are all types of Sparkling Wines, but none are named Champagne.
To call any bottle of bubbles ‘Champagne’ is kind of like calling Iceberg Lettuce by the name Spinach. Both are leafy, green, and make great salad. But Iceberg Lettuce is not Spinach by any stretch. They taste different, they are grown under different conditions, and cost different prices accordingly!
However, I can easily understand the confusion. All wine labelled as being produced in the French region of Champagne must adhere to a strict set of production guidelines, making it consistent as the home of the best sparkling wines in the world. Interestingly the production of Champagne sparkling wine as we know it was born out of economic necessity. The region of Champagne is a cool, wet region where grapes struggle to fully ripen. With an average growing season temperature of only 16C, high ripe yields of fruit are hard to come by. The cool climate gives grapes that are high in acid, and as such Sparkling wine was born as a way to make palatable wine from grapes that could not be made into quality still wine. Without carbonation, these wines were undrinkable. Thank goodness for capitalism and innovation!