Passy-Grigny, Champagne-Ardenne, France

Champagne 101: Bubbly Basics

In my brief time spent in the Champagne region of France, there are a few things they want you to know about grapes for making Champagne.

What Type of Grapes?

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are the three main types used. The rosé types are either made from mixing local red wine with the champagne prior to bottling or leaving the pinot noir juice in contact with the grape skins just long enough to turn pink.

How Sweet Is It?

The amount of residual sugar determines the category—ranging from demi-sec (half-dry, actually sweet) with 33–55 grams of residual sugar per liter, to extra-brut (very dry) at less than 6 grams of residual sugar per liter.

Is it Vintage or Nonvintage?

Vintage champagne is named for a specific year that the grapes were harvested, on the premise that in that year they were of extraordinary quality to produce champagne by themselves without being blended with wine from other years.

Champagne 101: Bubbly Basics