Champagne is the most famous sparkling wine in the world. Apple, lemon, and toast are typical Champagne’s aromas. The flavors, intensity, and styles vary depending on the producer and his secret blending formula. Let’s find out more!
Only the wine produced in the Champagne region in France can be called Champagne. The others, even if produced with the same method, must be called sparkling wine.
Have you ever found yourself staring at many Champagne bottles wondering which one you would like best? Keep reading and you’ll find the answer and much more!
I’ve organized the content below in small sections to make it easy to read. I must confess I’m quite happy with the research and work done. As always wine tasting was my favorite part!😋.
Use the table of content below to jump straight to the section. In this article you’ll learn more about:
Keep reading to become a Champagne expert!
Champagne Taste Profile
These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Champagne.
Champagne Food Pairing
These are some food pairing suggestions for Champagne.
Serve and Store Champagne
A little bit of Champagne history
The oldest trace of sparkling wine is from France. It dates back to the beginning of the 16th century produced with the so-called Ancestral method. A century later this method was refined into the so-called Traditional method.
Over time the champagne production increased significantly with exponential growth in the 19th century.
What does Champagne mean?
The name Champagne comes from the French region Champagne where the wine is produced.
Where do Champagne’s grapes grow best?
Champagne’s grapes grow best in cool climates, like the Champagne region in northern France. The cool climate slows the grapes ripening, allowing them to maintain a high level of acidity which is perfect for sparkling wines.
What are Champagne Sweetness Levels?
The Champagne sweetness level depends on the amount of sugar added during the dosage. The most popular type is Brut with less than 12 grams of sugar per liter, aka g/l. Here are the sweetness levels:
- Brut Nature less than 3 g/l.
- Extra Brut less than 6 g/l.
- Brut less than 12 g/l.
- Extra Dry between 12 to 17 g/l.
- Sec/Dry between 17 to 32 g/l. Despite the name, it’s noticeably sweet.
- Demi-Sec/Medium Dry between 32 to 50 g/l.
- Doux/Sweet 50+ g/l. This is the sweetest level.
You can find here the sweetness level for white, red, and rosé wine for comparison.
What are the Champagne Styles?
There are primarily 6 Champagne wine styles:
Blanc de Blancs
It’s a white sparkling wine made only with white grapes, and usually Chardonnay.
Blanc de Noirs
It’s a white sparkling wine made only with black grapes which are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
As seen in the winemaking guide, Rosé can be made either by maceration, by blending white and red wine, or by adding liqueur d’expédition. To become sparkling they then follow one of the methods described above.
When you read Prestige Cuvée you are about to buy the best wine that a given producer can offer.
This is usually the standard offering and it means that the wine is made from grapes harvested across various vintages.
It means that grapes are all from the same vintage if it’s in Champagne (France), or that most of the grapes are from the same vintage in other areas. In Champagne, vintage wine is made only on the best years and for this reason, you should expect a higher price for it.
What are the Champagne Producers’ Types?
There are many Champagne producers on top of the Champagne houses. That’s why on the Champagne label, you’ll find one of the following abbreviations to identify. the type of Champagne producer. They are as follows:
CM: Coopérative de manipulation, i.e. the cooperative member put their grapes together to make the wine.
MA: Marque auxiliaire, i.e. the brand that’s selling the wine is not related to the producer
NM: Négociant manipulant, i.e. these are companies that buy grapes and make the wine out of them. The majority of large brands fall in this category.
ND: Négociant distributeur, i.e. the wine is sold by a wine merchant using his own name.
RC: Récoltant coopérateur, i.e. the wine produced by the co-operative, is sold by a co-operative member under his own name and label.
RM: Récoltant manipulant, i.e. the wine is made by a grower using his own grapes, using a 5% maximum of purchased grapes.
SR: Société de récoltants, i.e. similar to CM but they are not a co-operative just an association.
When is the perfect time to drink Champagne?
Traditionally Champagne is the perfect wine for celebrating an event. You should not limit to that though. Champagne is extremely versatile, you can have it on its own or with an aperitif or throughout a meal.
I’m gonna say it, for me every day is a perfect day for Champagne!
Some curiosities about Champagne
- There is an informal Champagne day and it’s the 31st December of every year! Yes, that’s New Year’s Eve night!
- Did you know that Champagne used to be much sweeter than the one we drink today? In the mid 18th century, Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten the wine before exporting it to the UK. Years later the designation Brut was created for the UK market.
- The most typical bottles used to ferment Champagne are the standard bottles, 750 ml, and the magnums, 1.5 liters. Having said that you can find in other sizes up to the Melchizedek, 30 liters.
What’s Champagne's typical price range?
Champagne is a very expensive wine, right? Wrong 😋! Ok, some are but the good news is that there is one for every pocket, especially if you are after the wine experience more than the name.
What I mean is that you can have a wine made in the same way as Champagne with an amazing price-quality ratio. Cava or Franciacorta are great examples. Learn more about it here.
Generally speaking, this is what you should expect in terms of price:
- $20-$30 Cava and Franciacorta.
- $30-$50 Champagne brand names, mostly Non-Vintage.
- $50-$100 Vintages.
- $100+ Premium.