Types of Champagne

Champagne, the sparkling wine that originated in the Champagne region of France, is known for its celebratory nature and is often associated with luxury and elegance.

different glasses of champagne

While many people may be familiar with the term “Champagne,” they may not be aware of the different types that exist.

There are several types of Champagne, each with its own unique characteristics and flavor profile. The three main grape varieties used to make Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Blanc de Blancs is a type of Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, while Blanc de Noirs is made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Rosé Champagne is made by adding a small amount of red wine to the blend, giving it a pink hue.

Understanding the different types of Champagne can be helpful when selecting a bottle for a special occasion or pairing it with a meal. Whether it’s a crisp and acidic Chardonnay-based Champagne or a rich and full-bodied Pinot Noir-based Champagne, there is a type to suit every palate. So, the next time you’re in the mood for some bubbly, consider trying a new type of Champagne and discover all the unique flavors it has to offer.

Understanding Champagne

Champagne Vs Sparkling Wine

Champagne is a type of sparkling wine that is produced exclusively in the Champagne region of France. Only sparkling wines produced in this region can legally be called “Champagne.”

a close up of a bottle of champagne in bucket with ice and glasses

The production of Champagne involves a secondary fermentation process that takes place in the bottle, which creates the signature bubbles and carbonation of the wine.

Sparkling wine, on the other hand, can be produced in many different regions around the world using a variety of different methods. While Champagne is made exclusively from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, sparkling wine can be made from a wide range of grape varieties.

The Champagne Region

The Champagne region is located in northeastern France and is home to some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world. The region is divided into five distinct wine-producing areas: Montagne de Reims, Cote des Blancs, Vallee de la Marne, Coteaux Sud d’Epernay, and Coteaux Nord d’Epernay.

The soil in the Champagne region is rich in limestone, which gives the grapes grown here a unique flavor profile. The climate in the region is cool and continental, which is ideal for growing the grapes used in Champagne production.

Champagne Houses Vs Vignerons

Champagne production is dominated by two types of producers: Champagne houses and vignerons.

Champagne houses, also known as maisons, are large companies that produce Champagne on a large scale. These companies often source grapes from multiple vineyards throughout the region and use a blend of different vintages to create their signature house style.

Vignerons, on the other hand, are small-scale producers who grow, harvest, and produce Champagne on their own estates. These producers often focus on producing single-vintage Champagnes that showcase the unique characteristics of their vineyards.

Both Champagne houses and vignerons play an important role in the production of Champagne, and each offers a unique perspective on the wine.

Champagne Production

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced exclusively in the Champagne region of France.

traditional champagne production storage

It is made using a specific method known as the traditional method, which involves a second fermentation in the bottle. Here are some key aspects of champagne production:

Grape Varieties

Champagne is made using three grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Chardonnay is a white grape variety that adds acidity and freshness to champagne. Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are black grape varieties that add body and fruitiness to champagne.

Fermentation Process

The fermentation process is a crucial step in champagne production. After the grapes are harvested, they are pressed to extract the juice, which is then fermented in stainless steel tanks. Yeast is added to the juice to convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process is known as primary fermentation.

After primary fermentation, the wine is blended and bottled with a mixture of sugar and yeast, known as liqueur de tirage. This triggers a second fermentation in the bottle, which produces carbon dioxide and creates the bubbles in champagne. This process is known as secondary fermentation.

Traditional Method

The traditional method is the process used to produce champagne. After secondary fermentation, the bottles are left to age on their lees, which are the dead yeast cells that are left over from secondary fermentation. This process is known as aging on lees, and it gives champagne its characteristic flavor and aroma.

After aging on lees, the bottles are riddled, which involves turning them upside down and gradually increasing the angle of the bottle. This causes the lees to settle in the neck of the bottle. The neck is then frozen, and the lees are removed in a process known as disgorgement.

Finally, a mixture of wine and sugar, known as dosage, is added to the champagne to adjust its sweetness level. The bottle is then corked and labeled, ready for sale.

Champagne Styles and Types

Champagne comes in a variety of styles and types, each with its own unique flavor profile and characteristics.

champagnes served in a bucket at a bar

In this section, we’ll explore some of the most popular styles and types of Champagne.

Blanc De Blancs and Blanc De Noirs

Blanc de Blancs is a Champagne made exclusively from white grapes, typically Chardonnay. These Champagnes are known for their crisp acidity and delicate flavors. Blanc de Noirs, on the other hand, is made from black grapes, usually Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier. These Champagnes tend to be fuller-bodied and more robust than Blanc de Blancs.

Rosé Champagne

Rosé Champagne is made by adding a small amount of red wine to the blend. This gives the Champagne a pink color and a slightly fruity flavor. Rosé Champagnes can be made using either white or black grapes, and they range in style from dry and crisp to rich and fruity.

Vintage Vs Non-Vintage Champagne

Vintage Champagne is made from grapes harvested in a single year, while non-vintage Champagne is made from a blend of grapes from multiple years.

Vintage Champagnes are typically more expensive and are considered to be of higher quality than non-vintage Champagnes. However, non-vintage Champagnes can be just as delicious and are often more affordable.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Rocco

Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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