Champagne and Sparkling wines are rated in different levels of dryness. It could be quite confusing to understand when you see words like Brut and Demi-Sec. There are also some Champagnes and sparkling wines that are vintage and some labeled “NV” or no vintage. This term is pretty self explanatory.
The vintage Champagne pertains to a single year which are pricier than non-vintage. The non-vintage pertains to a blend of several different years and although it isn’t as pricier doesn’t mean it is bad. There are many non-vintage Champagnes and Sparkling wines which are very delicious. The majority of the market is actually dominated by the non-vintage types.
Classifications of Dry
To understand the level of dryness is not as hard as you thought it might be. The classification is simple once you understand the terminology.
Extra Brut is the driest out of all the classifications. Many people might think the extra dry would be the driest but Extra Brut is actually the driest you can get. The second is Brut which is the second driest Champagne and Sparkling wine. Extra Dry is in the middle of the road dry and great as an aperitif or to mix with juice to make your favorite mimosa with. Demi-Sec is the sweetest of classifications and pair well with desserts and fruits.
The bubbles found inside your favorite champagnes and sparkling wines are from the second fermentation process. Some companies may inject Carbon Dioxide into their wine mixtures which are pretty convenient. The second and more natural way to add bubbles is by adding sugar and a few grams of yeast which will in turn carbonate the wine. In the typical bottle of wine the pressure of bubbles is about 80PSI in a typical bottle.
The aromas of both champagne and sparkling wine can be reminiscent of pears, apples and fresh bread (from the yeast). The flavors can range anywhere from apple, strawberry, cream and vanilla with some exhibiting nutty flavors which are more common in Old World champagnes. The prices vary depending on the size of your wallet but many economy priced champagnes and sparkling wine are quite enjoyable as well as the high priced bottles.
Further reading: How to Read a Wine Label from the U.S.
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