17 Helpful Champagne Terms
Use this glossary to choose just the right bottle for your Champagne toast.
Blanc de Blanc - Sparkling wines made exclusively with white grapes. In the case of Champagne, this means the wine has been made with 100% Chardonnay grapes.
Blanc de Noir – Sparkling wines made exclusively with red grapes, either 100% Pinot Noir or a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Brut – A dry sparkling wine, containing very little sweetness. This is the most popular kind of sparkling wine; typically enjoyed before or during meals.
Dégorgement – The removal of sediment from a bottle of sparkling wine after the second fermentation.
Demi-sec - A sweet style of champagne.
Dosage – A wine and sugar mixture added after dégorgement to sparkling wine to determine how dry or sweet it is.
Extra Brut – The driest style of sparkling wine containing little, if any, sugar. If no sugar at all has been added, it may be labeled Brut Nature.
Extra dry – Despite the name, a sparkling wine labeled extra dry is actually slightly sweeter than a wine labeled brut.
Fermentation – The process of creating alcohol and carbon dioxide when sugar reacts with yeast.
Lees – Yeast cells left over from fermentation.
Liqueur de Tirage – A yeast and sugar mixture added to still wine to begin a second fermentation.
Méthode Champenoise - The traditional method of creating sparkling wine, where a second fermentation occurs in the bottle. This term can only be used when making Champagne in the Champagne region of France. When this method is used outside of the Champagne region it is called Méthod Traditionelle. (For more information, see What Is Sparkling Wine?)
Non-vintage – when grapes blended from more than one harvest are used to make Champagne it is called non-vintage, or NV. The majority of Champagne is non-vintage.
Riddling – The process of turning and tilting bottles of sparkling wine in order to move sediment into the neck of the bottle so that it can be removed.
Sec – Although in French it means “dry,” a sparkling wine labeled sec is semisweet, and usually enjoyed with dessert.
Second Fermentation – The process that creates bubbles in sparkling wine by trapping carbon dioxide in a closed container. In the case of Champagne, the second fermentation takes place inside the bottle.
Vintage – when grapes made from the harvest of a single year are used to make Champagne it is called “Vintage.” The year appears on the label of the bottle of Vintage Champagnes.