Champagne Education
The Guide to Sparkling Wine from Around the World

Champagne Bubbles

The interest in sparkling wines is growing exponentially. Not only are they delicious and celebratory in nature, they're just plain fun to drink! To help you pick the best sparkling wine for your dinner or fête, we've created a basic guide to a few of the most useful terms in the world of bubbles.


Types of Sparkling Wines

Veuve Champagne
Champagne

The original sparkling wine, Champagne is sparkling wine that is specifically from the Champagne region of France. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are the three varietals most often found in champagne. Traditionally made in "method champenoise," Champagnes are fermented once, and then a little sugar (dosage) is added to the bottle, which is where the secondary fermentation- and the bubbles- come from!

Roederer Estate
Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is the American version of Champagne. Now and again you might see a few California sparkling wines that refer to themselves as 'Champagne,' however they are allowed to do so due only because they were producing their wines before WWI. What a loophole!

Prosecco
Prosecco

Ah, the Italian version of sparkling wine. But the difference in Prosecco and Champagne is notably the style in which the two are made. Prosecco is made in the "tank method" which means that the secondary fermentation (the step the bubbles come from!) is done in a tank, instead of in the bottle. Proseccos also tend to be on the sweeter side of flavor profiles, has a more mild bubble, and is typically lower in alcohol.

Cava
Cava

We can't leave Spain out of this party- Cava is the Spanish version of sparkling wine. Cava is made in the traditional "method champenoise" but with different grape varietals than champagne. Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarello are the main varietals found in cava, though one or two others might be used for different flavor profiles. Usually Cava is less sweet, more alike an American sparkling wine or non-vintage Champagne than a Prosecco in flavor profile.

Spumante
Spumante

The Italians had to complicate things a little by having two styles of sparkling wine. You may also see this called an "Asti Spumante" wine (not to be confused with Moscato d'Asti). Spumante literally translation means "foaming," and that is exactly what this sweet sparkler does. Made from the Moscato Bianco grape and produced in Piedmont region of Italy in the "tank method." Low in alcohol and on the sweet side, this sparkling wine is often served as a dessert wine.


Styles of Sparkling Wine

Extra-Dry
Extra-Dry

Don't be fooled by the nomenclature. Often, extra dry sparkling wines are sweeter than their brut counterparts. They can range between 12-20 grams of sugar per liter, so flavor truly depends on the producer.

Lanson Brut Champagne France
Brut

The term "brut" in sparkling wine means dry. This is the most common style of sparkling wine and Champagne. Specifically, a brut-style wine has less sugar added during the secondary fermentation process- Less than 15 grams of sugar per liter.

Demi-Sec
Demi-Sec

The better way to think of these wines is perhaps "half sweet." Demi-sec wines have a much higher added sugar content, leaving them considerably sweeter than a brut or extra-dry. 33-50 grams of sugar per liter compared to a brut's less than 15 grams is why it is thought of as "half."

Blanc de Noirs
Blanc de Noirs

Literally meaning "white of blacks," these are sparkling wines made only using the dark-skinned Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. The producers don't let the wine sit with the skin long enough for the wines to absorb the red color often associated with Pinots, yet they still retain their fragrant taste.

Blanc de Blanc
Blanc de Blanc

A sparkling wine made only with light-skinned grapes. Note, we are careful not to specify only Chardonnay grapes, because there are a few other very obscure varietals that may be found in a blanc de blanc. Usually, these are lighter and drier than a blanc de noir.

Rosé
Rosé

Simply referring to the color of the wine, a sparkling rosé or brut rosé are blush pink in color. A blanc de noir, made with dark-skinned grapes, is not always pink; however anything labeled "rosé" will always have the color.


Terms to Remember

Non-Vintage
Non-Vintage

AKA "NV" for those in the know! Non-vintage sparkling wines and Champagnes are about expressing a style and taste, not the flavor of the grape grown in a specific year. In order to achieve this, non-vintage wines are blends of different years, allowing for consistency in style and flavor.

Vintage
Vintage

Contrary to non-vintage, vintage Champagnes are exclusively meant to showcase a specific year's harvest. Often, the top-tier Champagne Houses will not declare a vintage unless they feel the wine is worthy. These wines must also age for a minimum of three years, which adds to their luxurious taste.

Dosage
Dosage

This term comes in handy when speaking about the style one is searching for. When a sparkling wine or Champagne is made, it is fermented once to become a base (the grape juice now has alcohol). Then, a small amount of sugar, the "dosage" is added to help balance the wine as it ferments a second time building its bubbly base.

Method Champenoise
Method Champenoise

This is the traditional way to make Champagne. The wine is fermented a first time to create a "base wine," which is then bottled. A "dosage" of sugar is added to the bottle itself, triggering a secondary fermentation that builds the bubbles. Then the bottles are "riddled" (filtered) of any extra lees so the wine comes out clear.

Riddling
Riddling

The French term for this is "remuage." This is the way sparkling is essentially filtered. After the wine has undergone its secondary fermentation, it still has a little bit of the lees and yeast sediment in it. The bottles are gently turned neck-down and rotated, allowing the top layer of sediment to escape the bottle trough gravity. Done by hand, this can take 4-6 weeks- but by machine it only takes 24 hours.

Tank Method
Tank Method

"Charmat method" to those in the know! Instead of adding the dosage to each individual bottle, when a sparkling wine is made using "tank method" the dosage is added to the tank. CO2 is added to the tanks to create the bubbles. Though this is a far more cost-effective way of producing a sparkling wine and less time consuming, it doesn't necessarily mean the wine is of a lesser quality.

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Champagnes
Billecart Salmon 2006 Blanc de Blanc Champagne
Billecart Salmon 2006 Blanc de Blanc Champagne

An all-chardonnay Champagne with grapes picked from only Grand Cru vineyards. The vintage 2006 has a pretty nose of custard, brioche and hints of honey that leads to bright acidity. The bubbles are incredibly fine and soft, lending to a long finish.

Regularly: $199.99 Special: $14.99 Net

J. Lassalle NV Brut Champagne
J. Lassalle NV Brut Champagne

Classic for a Non-Vintage Champagne. Aromas of limestone and lemon zest wrapped in fresh green apple. On the palate, yeast and slight florality and balanced by flint and smooth acidity. Dry with a mid-length finish.

Regular: $29.99 Special: $29.99 Net

Laurent-Perrier NV Brut La Cuvée Champagne
Laurent-Perrier NV Brut La Cuvée Champagne

A full-bodied and vivid Champagne, the nose catches whiffs brioche and apple. Round, fine bubbles exude creamy mousse leading to bright flavors of bright lime, candied orange peel and hints of lemon. Crisp and fruity.

Regular: $43.99 Special: $39.99 Net

Nicolas Feuillatte NV Brut Champagne
Nicolas Feuillatte NV Brut Champagne

Composed of 20% Chardonnay for elegance, 40% Pinot Noir for structure and 40% Pinot Meunier for fruitiness. Subtle predominance of white fruits, almonds and hazelnuts round out the flavors on the palate. Pleasantly balanced with an abundance of delicate bubbles.

Pair With: Poultry, Fish, Risotto

Regular: $34.99 Special: $29.99 Net


Sparkling Wines
Gloria Ferrer NV Blanc de Noirs
Gloria Ferrer NV Blanc de Noirs

This blush sparkler has bright strawberry and black cherry aromas with subtle vanilla highlights. Creamy cherry, lemon and cola flavors combine with a lush palate, lively bubbles and a persistent finish.

Regularly: $20.99 Special: $18.99 Net

Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé
Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé

Translucent peach hue belies a full, round palate. On the nose, heady aromas of peaches and cream, and white flowers beckon. Silky flavors of wild strawberries, roses and nectarines lead to a long, lovely finish.

Regularly: $39.99 Special: $29.99 Net


Prices Effective Through Jan 1, 2020