Enjoy Champagne; Where to Start?
Champagne is one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world. There’s history and tradition behind every bottle of fizzy wine, and making such exceptional wine is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Champagne is on another level.
The thing is, there are hundreds of Champagne houses, each offering a wide range of sparkling wines in diverse styles. How to choose? And is Champagne worth it?
Here’s how to choose the right Champagne for every food pairing and occasion. Champagne might be an exclusive wine, but it’s out there for everyone to experience! This is our Quick Champagne Guide.
Champagne Explained, 5 Things to Know
- Champagne is an appellation for sparkling wine made in the French region of Champagne. Although producers worldwide imitate the style, only wine from the actual Champagne region can be labelled as such.
- Champagne is amongst the northernmost wine regions globally, meaning the weather is generally cold, so the grapes retain high acidity levels. Champagne is amongst the tartest wine styles, which is why it’s so compatible with food.
- Champagne is made with three primary grapes: Two reds, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and a white varietal, Chardonnay.
- Producers must make their sparkling wine with a unique process called the Traditional Method, or Méthode Champenoise. This is one of the most time-consuming processes in the world of wine.
- Champagne houses make their wines by blending wine made from diverse grapes but also different vineyards and vintages. A typical bottle of Champagne can be made of one hundred specific wines or more.
Sweetness Levels in Champagne
Since Champagne is naturally tart, producers add sugar to the wine to balance it. Still, even Champagnes with up to 8 grams of residual sugar (RS) per litre can taste pretty dry. That’s the acidity balancing the wine’s sweetness. These are the most common sweetness levels in Champagne.
Brut Nature 0-3 g/L RS
Often labelled as Brut Zero, these wines don’t rely on sweetness to balance the wine’s tart palate. These can be harsh for the inexperienced, but they offer a tart experience with the lowest calories.
Extra Brut 0-6 g/L RS
Dry and refreshing, sometimes a bit too harsh for its piercing acidity and low sugar levels. Extra Brut Champagne is an excellent apéritif to pair with citrus and vinegar-based salad dressings.
Brut 0-12 g/L RS
The most common sweetness level. Brut Champagne can be pretty dry but it’s often nicely balanced, and is best enjoyed with oysters, white fish, sushi, sashimi, tartare and carpaccio.
Extra Dry 12-17 g/L RS
Balanced with no perceivable sweetness. Round and easy to drink, often with a round mouthfeel. Fantastic with oily fish and oysters.
Dry 17-32 g/L RS
You can perceive the sweetness in this one, but the wine is still better served with savoury food, including oily fish and shellfish.
Demi-Sec 32-50 g/L RS
Sweet, but still balanced. Easy to enjoy and compatible with spicy food. A popular style that can be enjoyed on its own.
Doux 50+ g/L RS
The sweetest Champagne style, now rare on the market. These are best enjoyed with desserts or on their own.
White. Most Champagne is first vinified as a dry white wine before gaining its bubbles through a second fermentation in bottle. Even wines made with red grapes are vinified as white wine by preventing the pigments in the grapes from tainting the juice. Expect a nose with apples, pears, white flowers and bakery scents over a mineral palate.
Rosé. Rosé Champagne comes in all sweetness levels, and it’s often made by combining white wine with red wine (made with Pinot Noir). These Champagnes offer berry scents along with the more typical mineral and brioche-scented bouquet.
Vintage. Only made in the warmest vintages when the grapes are ripest. These wines are meant to be aged, and they can have immense concentration and complexity on the nose and palate.
What is Your Favourite Champagne?
Champagne producers have been making fine sparkling wine for a long time, and each has developed its signature style. Some Champagnes are austere and mineral, and others are oaky and bold. Finding the right Champagne for you is quite an adventure, but a delicious one indeed!
You can discover our range of Champagne here