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When winter holidays come, I always find with my parents and the whole family. Sometimes we use Spumante, some other times Champagne, both to accompain with some sweet at the end of the meal, or during the meal.

In any case, I always wondered which is the difference between Champagne and SPumante (apart the fact that they come from different countries).

Are they the same? Is one more precious than the other? When do you use one or the other?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Champagne is sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. The grapes used in champagne are usually Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. I think that there are a few sparkling wines that are grown outside of Champagne, France, that are allowed to be labeled as champagne but for a purist, they aren't actually champagne. The politics are complicated, and you can get an overview of the idea at the champagne wikipedia page.

Spumante, on the other hand, is a sparkling white wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. (It is also called asti or asti spumante.) It's made from the Moscato Bianco grape. More information can be found on the spumante wikipedia page.

I find spumante wines to be very sweet, whereas you can purchase champagnes that are brut (dry), demi-sec (half-dry) and doux (sweet). Most champagnes are pretty dry. Champagnes are also typically sold at a premium, whereas you can find bottles of spumante for about $5.

I think it's a matter of taste for when you want to drink champagne vs. spumante. If the cost is an issue, then champagne should be saved for special occasions. Spumante is good for a meal or occasion that calls for a sweeter sparkling wine. If I want a dry sparkling wine and don't want to shell out for champagne, there is always Prosecco, Cava, or other generic sparkling wines.

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The Piedmontese wine is officially (DOGC) known as "Asti". "Asti spumante" is also correct, but spumante is just an adjective meaning "bubbly". –  Josh Caswell Feb 25 '13 at 1:27
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Adding to Lemontwist's answer, both Champagne and Cava are produced using secondary fermentation inside the bottle (the champenoise method), whereas the spumante wines are fermented in tanks.

The difference is that you have to tend thousands of bottles for months with the champenoise method, while you can fill the same thousands of bottles from the tanks in a couple of hours. Tending to the bottles is what accounts for the price difference.

Tank fermented bubbles tend to be larger than bottle fermented bubbles. Smaller bubbles are considered more elegant.

Lastly, the grapes are different races resulting in different flavours.

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Spumante is simply "sparkling wine." Spumante is NOT just Asti or Asti Spumante. And it is certainly not always made with Moscato of any form. Prosecco is a sparkling wine that does not undergo second fermentation in the bottle, only in tanks which makes it cheaper and certainly not same quality. Also, it's a different grape.

More and more producers - Deltetto (Roero), GD Vajra (Barolo) and Contratto (Canelli) - are producing beautiful Spumante metodo classico made from Pinot Nero, Chardonnary and even Nebbiolo. These are all beautiful wines that are great for celebrations big and small (like cooking a lovely dinner). Deltetto, for example, released his initially as methode champanoise, but the French stopped labeling any sparkling with any version of "Champagne."

Checkout these links for more info:

http://www.deltetto.com/pagine/eng/spumanti_deltetto/spumante_brut.lasso

http://www.gdvajra.it/sheets/VSQ-NS-Della-Neve-EN.pdf

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