I hope the last article helped you enjoy your bubbly a little more. Here I am going to give you a brief overview of what the terms on a bottle of Champagne label means and thus give you a little more power when you are deciding what you’d like at the store.
Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry/Sec, Demi-Sec, Doux. In ascending order these are the terms for dry to sweet in sparkling wine world. They have a direct correlation to the amount of sugar contained inside the bottle. There is considerable leeway in the amount of sugar (about 10 grams) within each classification. The sweetest, Doux, is mainly reserved for sweet dessert wines. If you want to make a mimosa or any other sparkling wine cocktail, you can’t go wrong with Brut or extra dry. The juice will add any sweetness you may be missing in the sparkling.
Method Traditional and Method Champenoise: These terms show that wine producers used yeast to add the CO2 (like in Champagne) rather than injecting it. This will lead to smaller tighter bubbles and often hints at a more quality wine. These titles are somewhat interchangeable. Again, Champagne has laws governing Method Champenoise and thus the process is done in the same fashion everywhere within Champagne. Winemakers outside of Champagne may take more liberties and method traditional may mean different things to different winemakers.
N/V: This means Non-vintage. Most Champagne or sparkling wine is non-vintage. This means wine from different years is combined to produce the sparkling wine. If sparkling wine is given a year (vintage) it is a sign of the winemakers’ faith in the year. Usually this will speak to the quality of the wine, but it is rare to see this and often expensive.
Blanc de Blancs: Literally translated from French to English as white of whites. This describes a Champagne or sparkling wine made from chardonnay grapes. Usually these will be a bit more acidic and crisp. Think of lemon or lime rinds, gravel, and earthiness when you are tasting. Just like any wine, winemakers have a lot of input on how the final products tastes. Thus, this is a general rule for the flavor profile of Blanc de Blancs. Also, if you read the previous article there is a small percentage of other grapes in the Champagne region which may also be used in a Blanc de Blancs, however it is rare.
Blanc de Noirs: Translated as white of blacks. These are white sparkling wines made from the black (also referred to as red) grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The lack of red color is obtained from leaving the skins out of the mix and pressing the grapes lightly. Typically these wines are fuller bodied than the Blanc de Blancs counter part. Bollinger is especially known for making a great Blanc de Noirs.
This short list should give you a nice head start on enjoying one of my favorite drinks. Remember sparkling wines can taste vastly different based on the conditions listed above and further wine maker influence. If you don’t enjoy one it doesn’t mean you dislike them as a whole.
To your health!