Learning the Lingo of Sparkling Wine

A cheat sheet for deciphering labels


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Vintage vs. non-vintage

Once you’ve identified a house style that you like, the easiest place to begin is to decide whether you’re looking for a vintage or non-vintage bottling. By their very natures, vintage dated bottles of Champagne tend to be more distinctive than their non-vintage brethren.

The reasoning is very simple. The non-vintage bottling is by its very nature not as great a Champagne as can be made in any particular year. It is, instead, the best of that house’s style that can be produced every year. A non-vintage bottling is the epitome of house style and a great way to learn about the various styles of Champagne. I buy non-vintage Champagne, a 6-pack each year, and drink a bottle each year from each 6-pack. I find that most non-vintage Champagne is at its best between about two to four years after release.

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  • Snooth User: LucyPH
    611783 4

    Recently I had a "VERY slightly sparkling" red table wine in the Piemonte region (Traversa, LaGiovincella) and can't find it here. It was dry and tasted like a cross between a pinot noir and a chianti. Any recommendations? Everything I've tried here is way too sweet for me.

    Dec 30, 2010 at 1:04 PM

  • Snooth User: JD Colmar
    473511 2

    The Cavas you reviewed are all very mainstream. There are many which exceed the quality of those mentioned and are huge values, Pares Balta and Gran Pasion for instance. There are also some made totally from Chardonnay and some from Chardonnay and Pinot which come from the Penedes region. They are fantastic wines!

    Dec 30, 2010 at 1:16 PM

  • Snooth User: mmozell
    277312 8

    Gee, thanks for the clear and concise definition of "Méthode Champenoise!!" Easy to describe, but lengthy, why not give it a shot? You must know that this would create yet another page for us to look at and increase your SRO! (I am growing so tired of being your pawn to a greater web presence!) Gee whiz, Gregory.....!!

    Dec 30, 2010 at 3:39 PM

  • We were in the Champagne region of France for one full week in October of 2010. We visited several small producers including Manuel Janisson. This guy has his own Champagne House (3rd generation) but I discovered that he makes the Costco Kirkland Champagne. See my article on GoodCheapVino.com http://bit.ly/gp8A88

    Dec 30, 2010 at 5:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Flying 44
    697996 20

    Interesting article. However you fail to mention the fact that Australia produces a sparkling RED wine! Mostly it's shiraz but some wineries also make their sparkling wine with pinot noir. Oviously, sparkling red has quite a bit more body than a sparkling rosé or a sparkling white, but the taste is more than interesting! I've served it with BBQed meats and it's GREAT!

    Dec 30, 2010 at 6:23 PM

  • Snooth User: kincaid
    166137 26

    one of those is the Mateus Rosé Sparkling... a good choise to celebrate 2010/11.

    Dec 31, 2010 at 5:00 AM

  • Snooth User: apps
    370206 4

    thant for the new web site goodcheapvino.com

    Dec 31, 2010 at 7:55 AM

  • Snooth User: Flying 44
    697996 20

    Reply to Kinkaid,
    NOOOO! I wasn't talking about Rosé bubblies...but RED sprarkling wines. The Australian RED sparkling wines are made with shiraz or pinot noir grapes and the result is truly RED! Nothing to do with the Portuguese rosé such as Mateus. BTW, that particular wine is on the sweet side.

    Jan 01, 2011 at 1:42 PM

  • Snooth User: EBGB
    902774 24

    LucyPH - sounds like you're talking about Lambrusco. Try wine-searcher.com for a retailer in your area. A lot of it isn't very exciting, but the good ones are lovely.

    Dec 31, 2012 at 12:06 PM

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