10 Sparkling Wine Terms You Need to Know

Two champagne bottles facing each other with corks blasting out and wine exploding from the bottles

Sound like an absolute pro this season. 

by Erin Henderson

While we here at The Wine Sisters think there's always an occasion for sparkling – regardless of the time of year, this is the high-water season for cork popping and fizz guzzling. 

To make sure you sound like the coolest cat at your next Champagne party, get to know these common sparkling wine terms. 

Brut

This is a French term that means dry. It’s arguably the most popular style (sparkling wine ranges from very dry to surprisingly sweet). Brut wines less than 12 grams of sugar per litre.

Blanc de Blancs

Champagne is made of three grapes: Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red), and Pinot Meunier (red). Blanc de blancs literally means “white of whites” meaning only white grapes were used. Ergo, this is a sparkling Chardonnay.

Blanc de Noir 

This literally means “white of blacks” meaning it’s a white bubbly made from black (red) grapes. Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier grapes are pressed without any skin contact to keep the juice clear. 

NV

This is an acronym often seen on restaurant wine lists which stands for “Non-Vintage.” It’s a bit misleading because it this wine is actually blended from multiple years of wine to create a standard, house style.

Dosage

The top up to a bottle of Champagne after the yeast has been removed (disgorged.) In the Champagne making process, still wines get their bubbles by adding more sugar and yeast to the bottle and then sealing that bottle. The yeast eats the sugar, and a byproduct, in addition to increased alcohol, is the development of CO2 which gets trapped in the wine and creates the bubbles. Eventually the gritty yeast must be removed to clarify the wine, which also means a small amount of wine is lost during the disgorgement. Therefore, an extra dose, or “dosage” of more wine and possibly a bit more sugar is added to the bottle to top it back up. 

Traditional Method

This is the process developed and still used in making Champagne. It’s been adopted by wineries across the globe to make their own top-notch bubblies, which they list on the label.

Cuvée

This means the wine is a blend, but whatever that blend is, is up to the winery. A bit of sleuthing might be required to figure out what you’re drinking.

Millésime

A specific vintage – or year – in wine making. When you see this on the label, it will read something like, “Millésime 2008” meaning all the grapes in that bottle of wine were harvested in 2008. It’s the opposite of non-vintage.

Crémant

A French sparkling wine that’s made in the same style as Champagne (the Traditional Method), but from somewhere else in France and often from other grapes. Eg. Crémant de Loire.

Grand Cru

Champagnes made from grapes from the 17 most prestigious vineyards in Champagne. Cristal and Krug are both examples of Grand Cru Champagne.

Hear From Real People!

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Thank you very much for the amazing wine tasting. We all had the most wonderful time. The wines were excellent and your presentation was very entertaining and informative.
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Everything was perfect and very personalized! We still talk about experience and how nice it was. Definitely memories our family will treasure forever.
I wanted to thank you again for last night. Everyone had a great time, and I received a lot of compliments, on your behalf. You struck a great balance between being informational and entertaining. 10 out of 10.
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The Wine Sisters put on magnificent event in Unionville..... They did a superb job, both as Sommeliers and on the PR and overall event co-ordination ... Great job and we look forward to working with you on our event!
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