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Champagne: A Guide for Beginners

Updated on January 31, 2013

The Quick Champagne Guide

Are you wondering why vintage Champagnes are so expensive? Or what demi-sec means? Champagne is a sparkling wine produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France, thus the name. The beverage is created by inducing an in-bottle secondary fermentation of the wine in order to produce carbonation - the bubbles.

Most of the grapes used to make Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot noir. Champagne should not be confused with the many sparkling wines on the market. (For definitions about sparkling wines, see the link below)

If you are planning to celebrate, knowing what you are buying or drinking is listed on the label. Below are 7 Champagne descriptions to get you started:


1 - Non Vintage (NV) - a signature Champagne for a producer made from a blend of wines from different harvests (vintages). This is a method that provides a consistency in the Champagne and helps to define a 'house style.'

2 - Vintage - a Champagne made from a harvest in the year that is printed on the label. The wine is made only during weather conditions that can guarantee the right results. This is why vintage Champagnes can be very expensive. Vintage Champagnes usually mature very well over many years.

3 - Prestige Cuvee - is made from specially selected fruit usually from a single vineyard. Prestige Cuvee is only made when the weather conditions are kind and is usually a vintage wine as well.

4 - Blanc de Blancs - this Champagne is made only from Chardonnay. Chardonnay is the white grape in Champagne.

5 - Blanc de Noirs - this Champagne is made from one or both of two red grape varieties - Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. The grapes are picked and immediately pressed. This way the juice does not get colored by the dark grape skins.

6 - Demi-Sec - a sweeter type of Champagne made with more sugar. This Champagne is often used as a desert wine and may be served with cakes.

7 - Brut Zero/Ultra Brut - this is the bone dry style of Champagne and makes a good aperitif. Often used and enjoyed before a big feast.

For more information about selecting a variety of beverages, see links below:



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    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      You're welcome - and thanks so much Man from Modesto.

    • Man from Modesto profile image

      Man from Modesto 6 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

      Nicely put together. Thank you.

    • CountryCityWoman profile image

      CountryCityWoman 6 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      A glass of good Champagne is just soooo good. Thanks for the list - I like being knowledgeable! Rated up!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know I do wonder about this stuff and if I am going to be a sophisticated drinker I need to know the terminology.

      Thanks for the quick guide. I'll bookmark it.

      Rated up!