Chardonnay vs Champagne: Differences, Taste and Alternatives

You’re about to find out the difference between Chardonnay vs Champagne wine.

Chardonnay vs Champagne

1) Chardonnay vs. Champagne: How are they different?

There are several differences between Champagne and Chardonnay. Keep these points in mind to answer the question is chardonnay wine or champagne.

  • Wine With Bubbles. The most crucial difference is the simple: Champagne is a wine with bubbles, while Chardonnay is a white wine grape.
  • Geography. The second champagne vs chardonnay difference is geography: Champagne refers to sparkling wine made in the Champagne wine region of France.
  • Wine Grapes. A bottle of true Champagne wine from France is made from a few specific wine grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier. There are a few other permitted grapes, but those three are the most significant. In contrast, a chardonnay wine is typically made from the chardonnay grape only. Keep these grape differences in mind when it comes to champagne vs chardonnay.
  • Price. A random glass of Champagne wine will typically cost more than a random glass of Chardonnay. Why? Champagne wine is only made in a specific region of France under strict guidelines that increase the cost of production. In contrast, Chardonnay can be affordable wines or expensive – it all depends on marketing, coverage by publications like Wine Spectator, and other factors.

2) Chardonnay vs Champagne: What is The Difference In Taste?

Aside from the noticeable difference in taste that comes from carbon dioxide, there are a few differences in taste to keep in mind when comparing Champagne vs Chardonnay.

  • Champagne. A bottle of true Champagne has a consistent flavor profile because it is made from the same few grapes, and champagne experts use similar production methods. You can expect to taste crisp apple and green apple flavors.
  • Chardonnay. Since Chardonnay is made worldwide, it is challenging to describe chardonnay wine with a consistent flavor profile. That said, there are a few common characteristics. In terms of fruit flavors, you will usually taste apple or lemon. With oak aging, you may taste vanilla or a buttery quality (some people compare it to popcorn).

With these differences in mind, you can better understand how to answer the wine question: is chardonnay wine or champagne?

3) Chardonnay vs Champagne: How Do They Compare In Sweetness?

In general, Chardonnay and Champagne are made in dry and sweet styles. That said, it is a bit easier to find sweet or off-dry Champagne than a sweet Chardonnay, in my experience.

To help you decide between the different types of Champagne, let’s break down the sweetness levels that champagne producers offer.

  • Brut Nature. Welcome to the driest of the dry in the champagne world. Brut Nature champagne has 0-3 grams per liter of residual sugar. Since the sugar level is low, this type of Champagne also has the lowest amount of calories.
  • Extra Brut. Slightly more common than Brut Nature, this type of Champagne has 0-6 grams per liter of residual sugar.
  • Brut Champagne. The most common dry champagne-style has 0-12 grams per liter of residual sugar.
  • Extra Dry. You will have a sweeter taste in the champagne bottle because this bottle has 12-17 grams per liter of residual sugar.
  • Dry. Don’t let the name fool you! This type of champagne wine (also known as secco) has 17-32 grams of residual sugar per liter.
  • Demi-Sec. This is the second sweetest kind of Champagne available. IT has 32-50 grams of residual sugar per liter.
  • Doux. Once you get experienced with the world’s finest Champagne, treat yourself to a doux. This wine with bubbles might be the sweetest wine with bubbles you’ll ever drink. It has 50 grams of residual sugar per liter. From a calorie perspective, this wine has triple the calories of brut Champagne.

When you are ordering Champagne in a restaurant or a bar, it is essential to be specific. Simply saying you want a glass of dry Champagne might lead to you having a sweeter wine. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sweet Champagne. However, if you are looking for a classic bottle of Champagne, ask for brut Champagne.

4) Chardonnay vs Champagne: How Are They Made?

It isn’t easy to generalize about making Chardonnay wine production methods because it can be made in many different styles. For example, in a cool climate, Chardonnay will typically have more of a mineral taste. In contrast, a Chardonnay from a warm climate from Chardonnay will usually have a more robust fruit flavor.

Champagne production methods (also known as the traditional method) follow strict guidelines. Generally speaking, modern-day Champagne must be made with the following steps:

  • Grape harvest to create the base wine. Modern-dry Champagne is still commonly hand-harvested. The base wine then goes through primary fermentation (also called initial fermentation), which creates alcohol.
  • Blending Process. Champagne houses usually aim for a consistent style. That’s why there is some blending as the winemaker puts different wines in the bottle to achieve the desired flavor. Of course, there are exceptions. Some Champagne producers focus their entire process on a single vintage.
  • Secondary Fermentation. Over six to eight weeks, secondary fermentation is the process that adds carbon dioxide into the wine.
  • Riddling. The winemaker carefully adjusts the wine bottle so that the dead yeast cells can be easily removed.
  • Final Bottling. The final step involves putting the finished wine into bottles using Champagne corks (and you might want to know how to open cork wine).

The above production steps are one of the best ways to answer is chardonnay wine or champagne? If those production steps have not been followed, you probably do not have a bottle of Champagne.

5) Chardonnay and Champagne: What Are The Affordable Wines?

Are you looking for a sparkling wine without the high price tag of the world’s finest Champagne? Fortunately, there are many champagne alternatives on the market.

The Spanish Option: choosing Between Champagne or Cava?

While the finest champagne wine typically sells for over $100, it is easy to find an affordable sparking line from Spain. Spanish sparkling wine, also called Cava, is made using the traditional method, similar to Champagne. However, Cava wine is different from Champagne because it uses different grapes: Macabeu, Xarello, and Parellada.

The Italian Option: Champagne vs prosecco?

In contrast to Champagne and Spain, Prosecco is produced using different methods. Italian sparkling wine is produced using the tank method (i.e., secondary fermentation occurs in a large tank). Unlike Champagne, the flavor profile emphasizes fruity notes like pear and apple. Some people describe the tank method of producing sparkling wine as the “affordable method” because it is less costly than the traditional method. Now you know about popular Italian and Spanish sparkling wines, you have more choices than simply Champagne vs Chardonnay.

Ultimately, you can find amazing quality sparkling wine in France, Spain, Italy, and other places.

Chardonnay vs Champagne: Differences, Taste and Alternatives
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