How To Read A Champagne Label: Choose Your Wine Wisely
Champagne is one of the world's most prestigious beverages, hailing from France. But can you tell what type of Champagne you're drinking? How do you know if it was made traditionally or not? How does its "style" affect how much you enjoy it? Well, it's all about reading the label.
The key information printed on a bottle of champagne is the name of the producer or wine house. Unfortunately, the champagne house name will not be visible on the label in some cases, although this does not necessarily mean it is not genuine.
Not all champagne labels have the same format, so there may be details present in some and absent in others. Nevertheless, you'll still be likely to read the most important pieces of information in every bottle.
Champagne is a sparkling white wine from the Champagne region of France. You'll see that these bottles have the word "Champagne" written in bold letters, usually at the top, indicating that they are made in the Champagne region.
Sometimes, people mistakenly call other types of sparkling drinks, such as Prosecco or Cava, “Champagnes” when they are not those kinds at all!
Sparkling wines made outside this area are still delicious but cannot legally use the word for their label. They are instead known as “Crémant.”
You will see the brand name of your Champagne prominently printed at the top of the label. Some of the best brands include Moët & Chandon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Pérignon.
Also, there may or may not be additional information such as whether it is a "Prestige Cuvée Wine," which indicates that it is among the top wines from their house, or "Grand Marques,” which means "great brand."
In the world of Champagne, some grape growers make and sell their products while others buy grapes from other vineyards. Many producers will have enough land to grow all that they need but not necessarily make it themselves.
There are about 19,000 grape growers around the world that make Champagne. But only 2,124 of them produce and sell Champagne, and most have only 30 hectares to work with.
Meanwhile, more prominent Champagne producers are known as Champagne houses. The Champagne houses of France are a colossal force in the wine industry.
The Champagne region is known for its elegant and sophisticated wines. The classification of these wines is slightly different from that in other areas, which may explain why they're so popular with some people.
For example, in Bordeaux, the classifications depend on where you start your wine journey - by town or villages within a particular area then progressing to vineyards based around those areas. Burgundy follows a more precise system as it's classified through specific vineyard plots.
The Champagne region of France is famous for producing excellent wines. The best ones are classified according to the Crus or villages in which they were grown. There are two ‘top’ levels that you should look out for: Grand Cru and Premier Cru.
To counter the acidity of Champagne and many sparkling wines, winemakers add a form of sweetness to balance them out.
Dosage refers to the level of sweetness added before it ferments into sparkling wine, usually through grapes that are not ripe yet, so they lack any natural sugars for fermentation or when there’s too much acidity on a grape variety.
Champagne can contain either of the following amounts of sugar per liter:
The double-letter identifier system indicating the type of producer will categorize Champagnes into either of these seven:
A bottle of Champagne will have an alcohol content of around 12.5% on average, but the percentage can vary based on what label you're drinking from and could be as low as 11%.
The range is wide enough to give drinkers a chance at finding their favorite balance between quality and drinkability.
Champagne labels are required to display the size of a bottle. A standard-sized 750 mL is typical, but bottles can come in any number and size.
Magnums are like the size of two standard bottles that contain 1 ½ liters or more! There is also a half-bottle (375 ml) and a whopping 3-liter bottle called a Jeroboam.
This indicates the types of grape that go into the Champagne, namely Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The way they're combined will exhibit the style of Champagne, which are as follows:
Champagne can be identified as either vintage or non-vintage. If a specific year is displayed on the label, it means that the grapes used to make it were harvested in that same year and are therefore considered "vintage."
Without any date or if the letters NV are shown on the label, the champagne is most likely blended wines from different years' harvests, making them non-vintage.
French wines, including Champagne, are categorized using a French wine classification system. The main classes or grades are:
Many bottles of Champagne will have information about importers and or distributors at the back portion. This tells you where and how it was imported to your country and who distributed it for sale.
When buying directly from France's producer, the back label may indicate facts about the production process. It includes the grapes used, stories told by producers themselves, and any required legal labeling requirements because a good bubbly deserves genuine authenticity.
When you know how to read a champagne label, picking the perfect bottle becomes easy. It can be fun once you get used to it; you can also ask your retailer for assistance or advice if anything seems confusing or unclear.
Before you pop open or saber a bottle, try identifying all its parts and see if you can get all of them right! To go with your drink, be sure to check out the best champagne glasses to toast your celebrations!