If you’re preparing for a dinner party or elegant event, a bright and festive wine is probably on your list.

But what’s the difference between sparkling wine and champagne? Or are they the same thing?

While sparkling wine and champagne are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two drinks, and you don't want to use the wrong term around a wine specialist.

Here’s everything you need to know about the two drinks and how they differ.

Sparkling Wine vs. Champagne—What’s the Difference?

Sparkling wine is an umbrella term, and champagne is included under that umbrella. In other words, all champagnes are sparkling wines, though it is only one of many types of sparkling wines. For example, prosecco, cremant, and cava are also types of sparkling wines.

Champagne refers only to wines that come from the Champagne region of France.

Most champagnes are made of some combination of pinot noir, meunier, and chardonnay grapes. However, there are some exceptions. For example, a blanc de blancs is champagne made of purely chardonnay grapes and a blanc de noirs is made of exclusively pinot noir grapes.

If a wine is made with a similar recipe in any other part of the world, it is referred to as a sparkling wine. However, sparkling wines don't have to abide by the same rules as champagnes. For example, they can be made with the same grapes as champagnes or with blends of different grapes. In addition, while champagnes must be made with the Classic Method, sparkling wines can be made with the Tank Method.

Is Champagne Stronger Than Wine?

Champagne has an alcohol percentage of about 12.2 percent, which is slightly lower than the average alcohol percentage of red wine (about 12.5 percent). However, you may notice that you feel tipsier after a few glasses of champagne than a few glasses of wine.

This is because the gas (bubbles) from champagne allow your stomach to absorb it faster and quickly enter your bloodstream.

You'll also probably feel a stronger hangover from champagne as it contains more congeners, which hinder cell functionality and contribute to headaches.

Which is More Expensive, Champagne or Wine? 

Champagne is typically more expensive than a typical bottle of white wine as an average quality champagne costs around $50. This is somewhat because the process to make champagne is much more involved than the average winemaking process. For example, while any sparkling wine can undergo the second fermentation in tanks, champagne must undergo an in-bottle fermentation. In total, the average champagne takes about 18 to 30 months to create.

In addition, the winemaking region can impact its price, and the Champagne region of France is considered a more luxurious region.

Is it Okay to Mix Wine and Champagne?

Mixing champagne with wine can produce a satisfying cocktail with a solid base and a sparkling finish. However, it's often more popular to mix champagne with fruity juices like cranberry juice.

To complete the presentation, consider serving your cocktail with strawberries, raspberries, or other fruits.

Final Thoughts

If you're hosting a dinner and serving sparkling wine or champagne, it's essential to know the difference between them as wine experts will be quick to correct you. Nonetheless, while it's illegal to label a wine originating outside of the Champagne region as champagne, many sparkling wines are sufficient at bringing the same bright flavors to your party. Try a few different varieties, and let your guests be the judge.