First of all, what the hell is Champagne? Is it just grape soda with alcohol?
Well, in a way, yes. You’ll find some cheap variants which are exactly that! But Champagne isn't cheap, right? Absolutely not. But the reason for the existence of cheap Champagne is simply that it isn't actually Champagne.
There is a category of wines called sparkling wines. These are what are also sometimes called bubblies. They are produced all over the world, including our India. And, simply put, sparkling wines are wines that have carbonation present in them. So, when they open you hear the !POP! sound, just like you do with Champagne. And, when poured in a glass there is effervescence, or bubbling, hence the name.
Sparkling wines can be white, pink or red (by the way, pink wines are called rosé wines). Anyway, coming back to the sparklers and we shall get to the Champagne.
So, sparkling wines are produced by many countries. The Italian sparkling is called Spumante (spoo-maan-the) which literally means sparkling. Now I am sure, there is a genius amongst us who would say I am wrong and that Italian sparkling is called Prosecco. Well my friend, you are right and wrong. Prosecco is Italian Sparkling, but made only with the Prosecco grape, that comes from the Prosecco village in Trieste. However, it is a new fad amongst five star hotels and is fast catching up.
Sparkling wine from Spain is called Cava (kaavaa).
Then there is the German Sparkling wine which is called Sekt (set). All these words are the ones you can spot on the bottle of a sparkling wine and they will tell you which native sparkling you’re drinking.
Then, there are some other descriptives. The most common would be Brut (brute). This is the most common style of any sparkling wine and goes well with food. What does it mean? Well, if you were to ask a sommelier, they would say it means 'dry'. Now, my immediate reaction was, how the hell can a drink be dry?
As I learnt, 'dry' in wine terminology refers mostly to the effect it carries out in your mouth, once you have had a sip. So, a dry wine refers to that kind of wine, which will make your mouth go dry when you finish gulping it. The feeling is similar to having just plain bread. 'It leaves your mouth dry...'
So the common words on a Sparkling Wine bottle would be:
Extra Brut ------ Extra Dry....like Bone Dry!!!!
Brut-------------Most common and enjoyable style
Extra Dry-------Only a claim, but it is less dry than Brut
Demi-sec-------For the sweeter side of life.
And there may be stuff that says 'Sec'.
Champagnes, most often do not carry an age label. But if one does, be advised it will be expensive. Now, having said all that, getting back to ‘what is Champagne?’ Well, as any Champagne house would put it, Champagne only comes from Champagne, France. No other sparkling wine made anywhere else in the world has the right to call itself that.
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