A Glossary of Champagne Terms
A.O.C. - Appelation d'Origine Controlée is a system of quality control for wines produced in France.
Assemblage - creating the distinctive blend of a champagne using the wine of different years.
Balthazar - 12-litre bottle (16 normal bottles).
Blanc de blancs - white wine made only from white grapes which in the case of champagne is typically Chardonnay.
Blanc de noirs - white wine made only from black grapes which in the case of champagne is Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.
Brut - champagne which has no more than 12 grams of sugar per litre.
Capsule - the circular metal cap on top of the cork and under the wire cage which prevents the latter from cutting into the cork over time. Also known as plaque de muselet.
Chaptalisation - the process of increasing the alcoholic strength by adding extra sugar or concentrated grape juice to the wine.
Crémant - a term to describe less sparkling champagne now no longer used for wine produced in the Champagne region. G.H.Mumm's de Cramant is less sparkling but derives its name from the grapes grown in the village of Cramant in the Cote des Blancs.
Cuvée - the first, and therefore best, 2,050 litres of must pressed from the first 4,000 kilos of grapes. This pressing (around 200 litres of wine) is used by some houses for particular branded bottles, for example, Dom Pérignon for Moet & Chandon. It may also refer to an individual style or specific blend.
Demi-Sec - champagne which has between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per litre.
Doux Sweet - champagne which has more than 50 grams of sugar per litre.
Extra Brut - champagne which has less than 6 grams of sugar per litre.
Extra Sec - (aka Extra Dry) champagne which has between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per litre.
Grand Cru - champagne produced by villages which have a 100% rating in the échelle de crus classification. Currently, 17 villages hold this status.
Grande Marque - a name informally applied to the most famous houses such as Clicquot.
Grand Mousse - champagne which is particularly sparkling (typically 6 atmospheres of pressure).
Jeroboam - 3-litre bottle (4 normal bottles). By French law the wine must be bottled within it from the start of the fermentation process.
Magnum - 1.5-litre bottle (double bottle).
Méthode Traditionnelle - the official name for wine which has a second fermentation within the bottle. Also, Méthode Classique and formally known as Méthode Champenoise.
Methuselah - 6-litre bottle (8 normal bottles).
Millésime - the year of vintage or simply 'vintage'.
Mousse - the effervescence of sparkling wine.
Muselet - see capsule
Must - the juice pressed from the grapes but not yet fermented.
Nebuchadnezzar - 15-litre bottle (20 normal bottles).
Premier cru - champagne produced by villages which have a 90 to 99% rating in the échelle de crus classification. Currently, there are 41 villages with this status.
Prestige Cuvée - the best champagne of a particular House.
Rehoboam - 4.5-litre bottle (6 normal bottles).
Sabrage - the tradition of opening a bottle using a sabre rather than pulling the cork.
Salmanazar - 9-litre bottle (12 normal bottles).
Sec - champagne which has between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per litre.
Slang - champagne is known by many slang terms such as 'bubbly', 'bubbles', 'Champers', 'fizz', and 'shampoo'
Fadiman, C. (1962) Dionysus: A Case of Vintage Tales About Wine, McGraw-Hill, New York
Marrison, L.W. (1962) Wines and Spirits, Penguin, London
Mazzeo, T.J. (2008) The Widow Clicquot, Collins, New York
Stelzer, T. (2016) The Champagne Guide 2016-2017, Hardie Grant Books, London
Stevenson, T. (1988) Champagne, Sotheby's Publications, London
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