7 Things Called Champagne that Aren’t Champagne

May 8, 2015

Many regions produce sparkling wine, but only the ones made in the French area of Champagne can legally be called Champagne. Here are some other sparkling wines…and their proper names.

Sparkling Wine or Champagne?Saumur

Wine is made all over France. Champagne, in the northeastern part of the country is known for its sparkling wines, and Saumur, a city in west-central’s France Loire Valley, is a major wine-producer, too. Saumur is the name given to sparkling wine from in and around the Loire, as is Saumur Mousseaux. (What does mousseaux mean in French? Sparkling.)


Up until 1986, sparkling wines produced in the Catalonia region of Spain were called “Spanish Champagne.” But when Spain joined the European Union that year, it was legally required to stop. While locally and colloquially, Spanish sparkling wine is still called champana or xampany, the variety is officially called cava, from the Spanish word for “cellar,” where wine is usually stored.


As Ciabatta bread was a response to the popularity of French brad, Prosecco is the Italian version of Champagne. Prosecco was first made with Prosecco grapes, and comes from where they were first naturally cultivated: in the Italian village of Prosecco.


This is another kind of sparkling Italian wine, produced in the towns of Asti and Alba. It’s a sweet dessert wine, made with the Moscato grape.


This is South Africa’s contribution to the world of bubbly wines. It’s very similar to Asti, in that it’s made with Moscato grapes, but only ones grown in South Africa.

Sovetskoye Shampanskoye

That Russian name translates to “Soviet Champagne,” and that’s exactly what it is. During Communist rule, the Soviet government made its own sparkling wine out of Aligoté and Chardonnay grapes. It was so popular that it kept being produced after the Soviet Union split up. Today it’s made in Belarus, Moldova, and the Ukraine, but is still called “Soviet Champagne.”


This was a popular beverage in the U.S. in the 1970s…because it was extremely cheap. It has nothing to do with champagne—it’s a sweetened malt liquor, similar to a beer, but brewed with fermentation yeasts traditionally used in wine. Flavors like “Golden” and “Dry” aimed to mock the taste of sparkling wines.

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