What’s the difference between Prosecco, Cava, California Sparklers and Champagne?

From our Sommelier, Ken Schroeder

There is no more celebratory holiday aperitif than a sparkling wine. The most popular ones are Prosecco, Cava, California Sparklers and Champagne. All of these wines are typically high in acid and lower in alcohol making them a perfect match for a wide variety of hors d’oeuvres and foods. Keep reading to learn about the differences between Prosecco, Cava, California Sparklers and Champagne.

Prosecco, an Italian sparkler, is a simple and satisfying aperitif. It is fruitier, and not quite as bubbly or crisp as the others. Top restaurants in Italy will offer a glass of Prosecco at the start of every meal.

Cavas, a blend of native Spanish grapes, are moderately complex and value priced wines. They have great tasting lemony and earthy aromas with bright acidity.

California Sparklers, made from the same grapes as Champage, come in three main styles (like Champagne):

  • “Blanc de Blanc” or white from white grapes (citrus-flavored)
  • “Blanc de Noir” or white from red grapes (riper, sweeter and a bit pink)
  • “Rosé” (spicy, rich & drier)

Brut (dry) labeled releases are great aperitifs and pair best with food. Sweeter ones are best with dessert or at meal end.

Only wines produced in the Champagne district of France can or should be called Champagne. They are typically the most elegant, refined, complex and most expensive of sparkling wines. These champagnes are considered the epitome of celebratory drinks and the standard by which all other sparklers are judged, with “prices to prove it.”