Great Service begins with Selection. Whether choosing a Champagne for yourself or for others, it’s helpful to have a shared vocabulary along with the knowledge to express your personal preferences. By learning how to describe Champagne and refer to its styles, you’ll have the perfect bottle in your ice bucket.


Speaking About Style

Blanc de blancs   White wine from white grapes.

Blanc de noirs   White wine from black grapes.

Body   An important quality of wine with a high extract content, giving weight.

Demi sec   Semi-sweet.

Dosage   Sugar additive.

Maison   Champagne house

Mousse   The bubbles and effervescence formed by the carbon dioxide in the wine.

Premier cru   Wine villages or communes ranked one level under Grand cru. 90-99% on the cru scale.

Variety   The specific type of grape used in the wine; the resulting wine, if comprising purely or predominately one variety, is called a “varietal” wine. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are examples of varieties often bottled as varietals.

Vintage   Tear of production. The majority of Champagne comes from multiple vintages, so does not bear a vintage date.


Speaking About Taste

Acidity   An important component in all wines, acidity can lend crispness and life to a wine; acidity levels mark the difference between a wine that is bright and refreshing and one that’s soft or flabby.

Aroma   The scent of a wine. White wines tend to have aromas of pale-colored fruits–citrus, peach or melon. Red wines tend to have aromas of darker-colored fruits–strawberry, cherry or plum. Bouquet describes aromas gained through the aging process.

Finish   The lasting impression of a wine, the aftertaste.

Fruity   Describes a wine with abundant or pronounced fruit flavors (often used incorrectly to describe sweet wine).


Speaking About Production

Assemblage   Base wines that are blended into a cuvée.

Chef de caves   Cellarmaster.

Cru   Place of growth.

Cuvée   The blend or the first pressing.

Dégorgement   The removal of the sediment.

Fermentation   Quite simply, the conversion of grape juice into wine. The yeast feeds off the sugar in the grapes, setting off a chain of chemical reactions.

Filtering   The removal of yeast particles etc. prior to bottling.

Fining   The process that separates certain particles from the wine, either by filtration or adding gelatine which attracts particles on its way to the bottom of the vat.

Grand cru   The 17 highest-ranking villages.

Lees   Sediment.

Legs (or “tears”)   Lines of liquid along the sides of the glass. These indicate a high content of glycerol, sugar or alcohol.

Malolactic fermentation   The process which turns the hard malic acid into soft lactic acid.

Racking  The process of draining a wine from one cask to another.

R.D.   Recently disgorged.

Remuage  The bottles are turned in different stages to collect the sediment before dégorgement.

Reserve wines   Older wines that are used to give non-vintage champagne a more mature flavor.