In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Wine Tip Tuesdays: Champagne and Sparkling Wines

Written by Donna Marie Desfor, Culinary Consultant and Chef | Mar 12, 2012 4:48 PM

When learning about wine, one of the most daunting tasks can be mastering the vocabulary.  When it comes to Champagne (or sparkling) wines, it can get even more confusing.  Here’s a quick primer on the vocabulary for Champagne and sparkling wines to help you navigate your way through the “sparkling” aisle at the Wine and Spirit Shoppes.  I recently tried the Ruffino Prosecco (about $12.99) and enjoyed it so much it has been added to my list of favorite sparklers. 


With springtime knocking on the door, this is a great time to buy several bottles and taste the differences.  Side-by-side tasting is the best way to learn the differences between Brut and Extra Dry, and compare other sparklers like Cava and Prosecco. 

Of course, remember to taste responsibly.

comes from the Champagne region in France.  It is made from Chardonnay (white grape), Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (red grapes) grape varietals. 

is a style of sparkling wine and is made from the Parellada, Macabeo, and Xarel-lo grapes.


comes from Italy and is both the style and the name of the grape varietal used.

Sparkling Wine
a “new world” term that means champagne-styled wine produced outside of the Champagne region of France.

Blanc de Blancs
means “white wine from white grapes.”  In the Champagne region this means Champagne made entirely from Chardonnay grapes.  Blanquette de Limoux, comes from the Limoux region in France (where the Methode Champenoise was originated); it is combination of Mauzac, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc grapes.

is made by adding a bit of still (not bubbly) Pinot Noir wine for color.  Premium Rosé sparklers often have the complexity of red wine, and can be paired with meat dishes.

Brut means dry (no sweet tasted)
From least to most sweet, other styles are:
Extra dry, sec (dry), demi-sec (off-dry) and doux (sweet).

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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