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All about Champagne
What is Champagne?
An essential component of life's celebratory moments, Champagne comes from the vineyards of Champagne, France. This northwestern French territory has chalk and limestone-rich soil that lends the grapes there a higher acidity. This, in turn, gives Champagne its lovely fizz or slight effervescence with lower alcohol content. This wine comprises mainly three grape varieties, including chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
What's the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine?
Champagne must come from the Champagne region in France. Only seven stipulated varieties of grapes must be present in the blend. Sparkling wine, on the other hand, is not held to very stringent regulations. It may comprise several grape varieties, with wide-ranging flavors and styles. Sparkling wines are also less expensive as compared to Champagne and can come from anywhere in the wine-making world. Consider options like prosecco, which comes from Italy.
Before picking up a bottle of bubbly, it's important to know the various styles and levels of sweetness so you get what you're looking for.
- Brut / extra brut: Most common, bone-dry to almost-dry in flavor. (Less than 1.5% sugar)
- Extra dry/extra sec: Also known as extra-brut, this is slightly sweeter than Brut. (1.2-2% sugar)
- Sec: Medium sweetness (1.7-3.5% sugar)
- Demi-sec: Typically considered a dessert wine for its sweetness. (3.3 to 5% sugar)
- Doux: Very sweet, also considered a dessert wine. (+5% sugar)
- Vintage: wine made from a single year's harvest. They are always dated and the year is marked on the bottle. These are pretty rare and aren't released every year so you can pretty much guarantee an expensive price tag on these. An example of this type of wine is Dom Pérignon.
- Non vintage: wines that come from multiple harvests. Consistent in flavor as the winemakers have a specific flavor profile they look to match with all non-vintage bottles. (Think: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label or Moët Chandon)
- Cuvée: translates to “the contents of the vat." Despite a not so great sounding description, these wines are a special blend of batches, like the best pressed juice from a specific harvest, for example. Cuvée will always be more expensive than the typical non vintage bottles.
- Rosé: rosé champagne typically has notes of cherry and strawberry, but are not sweet in flavor. Rosé champagnes have become increasingly popular as a brunch drink.
- Blanc de blancs: made exclusively from chardonnay grapes. These sparklers have light, clean flavors and pair very well with food.
- Blanc de noirs: made from only pinot noir grapes, pinot meunier grapes, or both. This wine has a richer flavor than a blanc de blancs with notes of red berries and vanilla typically present.
There's Champagne for every occasion, and to find your pick, shop Driz or see if we've made it to your city. Click these handy links to search for Drizly in your city, and look for liquor stores on Drizly near you.
Champagne tastes the best in a Champagne flute. The shape (tall and narrow) helps channel the bubbles over your palate for the highest level of flavor and texture. Tilt the glass towards you, gently pour the wine down the side of the flute. Allow the bubbles to settle before filling so it doesn't overflow.