From Dom Perignon to Veuve Cliquot
Champagne most strictly refers to sparkling wine from the district of Champagne, in France. Champagne is the epitome of gourmet wine.
The first thing you might want to know is the sweetness of the champagne you are purchasing. In order from dry to sweet, here are terms related most closely with champagne.
- Brut Intégral, Brut Sauvage, Brut Zéro, Extra Brut, Ultra Brut: all very, very dry.
- Brut: dry champagne with less than 1.5% sugar. This is the most popular champagne.
- Extra Sec: also fine, this can mean 1.2 to 2% sugar.
- Sec: the French word for "dry" means only moderately dry in referring to champagne.
- Demi-Sec: a distinctly sweet champagne, it may be hard to find in the US.
- Doux: French for "mild," this is very sweet, with 5% residual sugar. It can make a nice dessert wine.
Within the region of Champagne, there are several "houses" of champagne. These houses are also called brands or marques, and each has a distinct character. Some of the more prominent houses are:
- Bollinger: some call this champagne full-bodied. Others complain of its heaviness.
- Charles Heidsieck: champagne experts rave about this houses' recent renaissance
- Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin: its hillside vines get strong sunshine
- Perrier-Jouet: elegant and understated
- Louis Roederer: a possibly underrated champagne
- Moet et Chandon: arguably the world's most highly revered champagne
Many argue that American champagnes, from New York and California, have their own special delights. In addition to being American born, these are considerably less expensive.
Did you know?
Dom Perignon was the monk in charge of the wine cellars at the Abby near Eperney, France. He considered champagne's bubbles a winemaking failure. However, these are an inevitable result of the Champagne region's cold climate and short growing season.