In case you are wondering why the title is “49 Million Bubbles” let me explain, there are supposedly there 49 million bubbles in a bottle of true Champagne, although I have never met anyone who actually counted them. Most Americans only Drink Champagne or Sparkling wine once or twice a year usually during New Years Eve or other celebration. The reason I say or Sparkling wine is because there is a huge difference between the two. Let me explain, Champagne can only be called Champagne if it originates from the Champagne region in France and if it is made via the Methode Champenoise (champagne method).
There are two methods of making sparkling wine. Only one of these, the methode champenoise, in which the bubbles form in the bottle, can be used to make real Champagne. Champagne must use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier as single grape or a blend of these grapes. The other method is called The Charmat process, is cheaper and can be made from any wine grape.
OK now that we talked about the way its made lets talk about the different things you’ll find on the label of Champagne and Sparking wine. First there is:
Non-vintage is a blend of different years creating a master blend of flavors. It accounts for 85 percent of all champagne sold all over the world.
Vintage is from a single year like most other wines the Champagne or sparkling wine is from a single year. A vintage champagne comes out two or three times a decade. It occurs when the grapes produced in that one year are exceptional, and no blending from previous years is necessary, or desired to make an exceptional champagne.
Rosé champagne happens in one of two different ways. Red wine is actually added to the blend or the red grape skins are left in contact with the must for a period of time.
Now for some flavor descriptions, Champagnes and other sparkling wines use four main terms to describe the wines:
Brut is the driest of them all which means it has no sugar in it.
Extra-dry , although it isn’t sweet it isn’t as dry as brut.
Sec has a very slight touch of sweetness to it.
Demi-sec literally means half sweet so as you can imagine it is the sweetest of the bunch.
So what are some recommendations, well that is a loaded question. I have tasted some great stuff over the past few years including some great Spanish Cavas (the Spanish versions of sparkling wines) which run around $6.00 – $15.00 per bottle to Grande Dame which runs around $150.00 a bottle and things in between. My best suggestion on this is to go to your local wine merchant and tell them what your price range is. If it is a good wine store they will be able to lead you down the right road.