Champagne 101: The Basics

Below you’ll learn the basics to help you quickly become a champs expert.


Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in exclusively in the Champagne region of France.

Champagne is more expensive than sparkling wine. If you’re looking for a great sparkling wine, head over to my post  5 Must Try Sparkling Wines.

Champagne 101: The Basics

Sweet or Dry

If you’re looking for a dry Champagne, look for “brut” on the label. Other terms you may see are: ultra brut, extra brut, brut zero, or brut sauvage. Brut means, extra dry no sugar added. Brut is a term you will see and while it is still an indicator of dry Champagne, it will help you know there is no more than 1.5% of sugar. Brut is so good and very popular.

If you’re looking for a dry Champagne that is a bit sweet, look for “extra dry” or “extra sec” on the label. Extra dry indicates that it is not as dry as brut, but instead has a sweet note. Extra dry Champagne can contain up to 2% of sugar. Champagne that only has “dry” or “sec” on the label, can contain up to 4% of sugar.

If you’re looking for a sweet Champagne that pairs well with fruit or dessert, look for “demi sec” or “doux” on the label. Demi sec can contain up to 8% of sugar and is just sweet enough. Doux can contain up to 10% of sugar and will definitely meet your sweet expectation.

How to Serve

In order to preserve those precious little bubbles that make Champagne what it is, it is best to serve it cold around 47-50 degrees. You can chill it two (2) ways: Sit the Champagne in a bucket of ice for one (1) hour or lay it on its side at the bottom of your fridge for your four (4) hours. Champagne looks better in an ice bucket and one hour is a lot quicker but if you’re event isn’t for a while, the fridge might be a better option for you.

NEVER chill Champagne in the freezer and never serve it in pre-chilled glasses, you don’t want to lose the bubbles.

How to Open A Champagne Bottle (Safely)

You have to obnoxiously pop open one bottle of Champagne at least once in your life. It’s nice to pop bottles but there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. Opening Champagne does not require that loud “POP!” sound. You can gracefully remove the cork without a lot of noise.

Step 1: Remove Foil

Step 2: Tilt the bottle slightly (45 degrees), away from your face and the face of others and untwist the wire cage.

Step 3: Grab a towel or a cloth to put over the cork (once you get used to it this isn’t required but it is always a good safety measure). The reason for this is just incase the cork pops quicker than you initially may have expected, it eliminates the danger of the cork hitting something or someone.

Step 4: One hand on the cloth covering the cork and your other hand on the bottle, take your hand on the bottle and twist (THE BOTTLE); the pressure in the bottle will eventually push the cork out. Occasionally you may need to get your thumb up under the cork and give it a little help but majority of the time this works perfectly.

How to Pour Champagne

There is an art to pouring Champagne. Pour slowly and don’t fill the glass more than 2/3 of the way. A slow pour allows the bubbles to collect and settle before you finish pouring. You don’t want to fill the glass up too much because you want to be able to inhale the aromas. Once it is open it is best if you drink it all; there is no sure way to save Champagne BUT, I have done the fork in the bottle method (put a fork, handle down into the bottle) and it has made my Champagne last at least another day but it’s really best that first day.

Photo: Glitter Guide

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