Champagne and sparkling wine for dummies


  • Method champenoise is a process that involves a secondary fermentation inside the bottle
  • Assemblage – blend is used to create a house style
  • Chaptalization – addition of sugar
  • CVIC – is a powerful organization that mediates between the large champagne houses and growers
  • Champagne is located at the 48th degree and has a mean temp of 10 degrees
  • Porous and belemnite chalk subsoil, with high limestone content. Aube vineyards are made up of predominetly clay
  • 3 grapes of champagne include chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot munier
  • 4 pruning methods are allowed, cordon de royal, Chablis, valle de la marne and guyot
  • 2550 litres per 4000kg of grapes


5 districts of champage

  1. Montage de riems
  2. Valle de la Marne
  3. Cote Des Blancs
  4. Cote se Sezanne
  5. Aube


Grand Cru’s of champagne


Montage de Reims

  • sillery
  • puisieulx
  • Beaumount-sur-vesle
  • Verzenay
  • Mailly
  • Verzy
  • Louvois
  • Bouzy
  • Ambonnay


Valle de la marne

  • Ay
  • Tour-sur-marne (red grapes only)


Cote Des Blancs

  • Chouilly ( white grapes only)
  • Oiry
  • Cramant
  • Vize
  • Oger
  • Le mesnil – sur – orger


Types of champagne producers

Every bottle of champagne has a series of digits and a set of initals

NM – negociant manipulant. A house that purchases grapes and or base wine from smaller houses

RM – Recoltant manipulant. A grower who makes champ from estate grown fruit

CM – Cooperative manipulant. Produces wine under a single brand

RC – Recoltant cooperateur – grapes are vinified but sells under own label

ND – Negocient distributor

MA – Marque d’achetuer “Buyers own brand”


A mixture of still wine, yeasts, sugar and fining agents are added to ignite secondary fermentation

Gyropallette – 504 bottles

Degorgement a la glace involves dipping the solution in a freezing brine solution




Sweetness levels of champagne

Extra brut (0-6 grams)

Brut (0-12 Grams)

Extra Dry (12-17 grams)

Sec (17-32 grams)

Demi-sec (32-50 grams)

Doux (50+ grams)

(the cork is secured with 6 ½ twists on the muselet)


Bottle sizes

Piccolo – 187ml

Demi 375ml

Bottle 750ml

Magnum 1.5L

Jeroboam 3L

Methuselah 6L

Salamanazar 9L

Balthazar 12L

Nebuchadnezzar 15L

Salomon 18L



Non Vintage (NV) – houses signature style

Vintage – 100% if the blend must come from the stated vintage

Blanc de Blanc – 100% chardonnay

Blanc de Noirs – White wine produced from black grapes

Presitge cuvee – the top cuvee a house has to offer

Single vineyard – produced by a large house or smaller grower

Rose champagne – saignee method as well as skin contact and blending

Still wines of champagne may be released as coteaux champenois and rose de riceys


Other sparkling methods

Method ancestrale: no dosage fermentation begins in tank and is transferred to bottle

Charmat method: secondary fermentation occurs in pressurized enamel tank

Continuous method: Sekt

Carbonation: single injection of carbon dioxide into still wine 

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