Symbol of luxury, celebration and good tasting, we bring you a guide to the 12 types of champagne, because with so many options it is worth knowing each one.
Champagne is a spirit wine produced in France in the region of the same name, and cannot bear the name if it is not produced in the region and if it does not follow the standardized procedure called the champenois method.
In fact champagne is protected by an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC).
There are different types of champagne and the most basic ones require a minimum of 15 months of aging.
This involves making a still wine and subjecting it to a second fermentation in the bottle to create bubbles.
To determine the final taste and level of sweetness, an liqueur d’expédition, consisting essentially of cane sugar and wine, is added before bottling.
The 12 types of champagne you should know: part 1
We bring you six of the 12 types of champagne. Take note, and write down the ones that will best suit your palate.
Doux and demi-sec
They are recognized as the “sweet” types of champagne. A doux (soft) champagne starts at 50 grams of sugar per liter, while a demi-sec contains 32 to 50 grams of sugar per liter.
The higher sugar levels make these types of champagne more full-bodied and flavorful.
As such, they are not what you would look for to quench your thirst on a hot summer day, but offer the richness and complexity needed to accompany a decadent dessert.
They are typically champagnes that pair very well with desserts. Serve them with pastries at tea time, as a finale to a festive brunch or as an aperitif with cheese.
Dry and Extra Dry
The Dry contains residual sugar levels of between 17 and 32 grams per liter, while the Extra Dry is between 12 and 17 grams.
But how is this possible if we have just mentioned sweet champagnes? Confusing, of course…
It turns out that the benchmark is a bit distorted, as it was originally used to label wines that were considered dry at the time when sweet Champagne was the norm.
Both these champagnes will perfectly suit as an aperitif, or to pair with spicy foods or a light dessert.
Photo by Mel Maldonado-Turner on Unsplash
Brut and Extra Brut
Common champagne houses usually produce brut or extra brut.
These are varieties comprising a level of six to 12 grams of sugar per liter for brut and zero to six grams for extra brut.
These types of champagne retain residual sugars but it is necessary to harvest the grapes early to maintain a high level of acidity.
The taste is not very sweet but rounder and smoother on the palate.
Extra Brut champagnes add minimal amounts of sugar in the liqueur de dosage to keep the champagne dry and high in acidity.
Perfect for putting everyone on the same page and tasting various food categories.
Brut Nature and Dosage Zéro
In Dosage Zéro champagnes, no sugar is added to the wine before bottling, which leaves it at a high acid level.
Brut Nature champagne can contain up to three grams of residual sugar. However, the amount is negligible and is produced naturally by the ripening of the grapes.
When we talk about such types of champagne we refer to crisp and refreshing varieties.
Vintage refers to wines made with grapes from a specific year (also known as the “vintage”) in which there were superior growing conditions and an exceptional harvest.
These types of champagnes are preferred by collectors and are the ones that great connoisseurs seek to own.
Because Vintage Champagne enjoys such a good reputation, it usually has qualities that allow it to age for several years.
Some wines require the blending of several vintages, while the best years are highlighted by producing wine only from that period. Champagne producers make the decision to declare a particular vintage (harvest), and rarely do so more than three times per decade.
As a result, these bottles often fetch high prices and prestige, as they only represent about 5% of production and express specific characteristics of the vintage in question.
Whether drunk soon after bottling or ten years later, vintage wines are usually more complex than non-vintage wines, making them an excellent choice for solo tasting while savoring the flavors and aromas that stand out from that year.
Non-vintage champagnes are usually fruity, balanced, and easy to drink. They are made by blending a variety of base wines before undergoing secondary fermentation.
The wines must age for a minimum of 15 months before release, although they often exceed this time.
As the area’s main production, non-vintage Champagne is usually created in brut styles, which round out the flavors while maintaining a bright freshness on the palate (via Comité de Champagne).
With a more modest price point and greater volume on the shelves, a non-vintage bubbly is an excellent choice for celebrations, everyday glasses, and food pairings.
Stay tuned as we reveal the remaining 5 types of Champagne in our next article.
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