Gents, there’s more to Champagne than just popping bottles. New Year’s Eve is creeping up on us; this means your going to be springing for a bottle or two. Before you empty out your wallet for a quality bottle of champagne here’s what you need to know about Champagne and its selection.

Is it really Champagne?

Let’s get one thing clear: Champagne is wine and it can only hold its title if it comes from the Champagne region of France. It is prepared under the “méthode champenoise,” a labor-intensive and costly process where the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, creating bubbles. Fear not, sparkling wine from other regions throughout the world can be prepared in the same manner. There are tasty alternatives, such as Italian prosecco and Spanish cava.

Discovering the Taste

By looking at the label and searching for one of these key terms, you’ll have a better idea of what the product will ultimately taste like.

  • Doux: The sweetest type of Champagne you’ll find.
  • Demi-Sec: A sweet Champagne that’s not as cloying as typical dessert wine, hence the name “half sweet.”
  • Dry: Champagne that’s not as sweet as a demi-sec.
  • Extra Dry: A Champagne that is a step dryer.
  • Brut (pronounced broot): The driest Champagne you can find and the most popular as it can be paired with a variety of dishes.

Fruits of One’s Labor

Look for one of these key terms to find out which grapes produced the sparkling wine. This will also help you determine which meals you should pair your drink with:

  • Blanc de Blancs (white of whites): A Champagne made with chardonnay grapes. This delicate variation is best served with light foods, such as seafood and soup.
  • Blanc de Noirs (white of darks): A Champagne made with pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. It features a deeper, golden yellow hue and is usually paired with full-flavored foods, such as meat and cheese.
  • Rosé: Pink-hued Champagne that gets its coloring from either the skins of dark grapes or adding a little red wine to white wine during the fermentation process. Rosé compliments richer dishes, such as duck or chocolate.
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