Champagne Glossary

Champagne Glossary2018-09-07T11:35:56+00:00

Welcome to Bespoke Unit’s Champagne Glossary.

Below you will find a plethora of Champagne terms including industry lingo and technical terminology, as well as in-depth champagne resources for further reading.

How To Use The Champagne Glossary

Find A Term: Select any letter in the Alphabet Key below and jump directly to the relevant entries.

Learn A New Term: Some terms feature in-built links to other terms so you can learn several at a time.

Explore Cigar Topics: Many terms may offer further reading through “Learn More” links that will send you to our various resources.

Anything Missing? If you can’t find the word you’re after, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

Selection Of Famous Champagnes

Select a letter below to jump down to its entries!


A

Acidity

The crisp or sour taste from a Champagne created by the presence of Malic and Tartaric acid. A Champagne’s acidity will often be harmonised through the presence of sugar and other aromas, which makes it pleasant.


Aroma

Often most associated with smell, aromas can also be detected on the palate. These are the essences of a Champagne after fermentation whose flavours are can be likened to other scents and tastes via descriptive notes.

Learn More: How To Taste Champagne


Assemblage

The art of Champagne blending, which includes various base wines and grape varieties to make a particular cuvée.

Learn More: How To Make Champagne


Autolysis

Autoylysis is the chemical process caused by yeast cells being broken down. It takes place when the Champagne is bottled and on lees and will continue for a long period of time. Here, the Champagne develops its complexity and nuances as well as the effervescence.


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B

Balthazar

Named after either one of the three wise men who visited Jesus or the last king of Babylon, the Balthazar is a 12-litre bottle of Champagne.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


Base Wine

The main ingredient when blending Champagne, many varieties of base wines can constitute a single cuvée. Generally, base wine feature approximately 11° of alcohol.


Blanc de Blancs

Literally “white from whites”, this is a Champagne blended solely from white grapes such as Chardonnay.


Blanc de Noirs

Like the above, this means “white from blacks.” It signifies a Champagne blended only from red grapes such as either Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier. This can either a single one or a combination.


Bouquet

A term often use to describe the ensemble of a wine or Champagne’s aromas. It often implies the development of secondary notes following a long ageing process.

Learn More: How To Taste Champagne


Brut

The most common sugar concentration of Champagne. A brut will feature anything up to 12 grams of sugar per litre to offset the wine’s acidity.

Learn More: Champagne Sugar Contents [Diagram]


Brut Nature

A dryer alternative to Brut Champagnes that are sometimes referred to as “non dosé” or “zéro dosage”. They contain no added sugar and an often exhibit rather tart properties.


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C

Capsule

When Champagne is aged on lees, it is sealed by a capsule much like beer rather than a cork.


Champenoise

A lesser-used term for a typical 75cl Champagne bottle.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


Chardonnay

Although other obscure white grapes still exist, Chardonnay is by far the most prevalent in Champagne.

Learn More: Champagne Grapes


Charmat Method

Also known as the tank method, Charmat involves a short fermentation process that takes place in steel vats. It is outlawed in Champagne and is mostly associated with Prosecco.


Chef de Cave

The French term for a winemaker, the Chef de Cave or cellarmaster will oversee the creation of new blends and ensure their consistency during every new batch.


Cœur de Cuvée

The most refined and highest quality juice extracted from the grapes. It is taken from the very middle hence its literal name being “heart of the first pressing”.

Learn More: How Champagne Is Made


Cooperative

Given the huge costs in buying and maintaining the facilities for pressing and fermenting Champagne, there are many cooperatives that work together to create shared or individual blends.


Côte

Literally “coast”, a côte is a sloping valley or mountainside with a South-facing incline. Most vineyards will be found here due to their ideal sun exposure.

Learn More: Champagne Geography & Topography


Côte des Bar

The most south-eastern Champagne growing subregion that specialises in Pinot Noir grapes.

Learn More: Champagne Producing Sub-Regions


Côte des Blancs

Famed for its chalky slopes, the Côte des Blancs specialises in Chardonnay grapes. It can be located just east of Épernay.

Learn More: Champagne Producing Sub-Regions


Côte de Sézanne

A Small, southern Champagne growing subregion.

Learn More: Champagne Producing Sub-Regions


Crémant

A type of sparkling wine that is made at a lower pressure than Champagne. It was banned as a viable method of making Champagne but is the name often used for sparkling wines in other regions.


Cuvée [Press]

The first 2,050 litres of juice extracted from 4,000 kg of grapes, which is the most refined during the process.

Learn More: How Champagne Is Made


Cuvée [Winemaking]

A particular blend of Champagne produced by an individual house.


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D

Dégorgement [Disgorgement]

The process of removing the capsule by plunging the bottle’s neck in a frozen brine solution. The remaining yeast is extracted by the bottle is properly corked without losing internal pressure.

Learn More: How Champagne Is Made


Demi-Sec

A decidedly sweet Champagne that can feature anything from 32 to 50 grams of sugar per litre.

Learn More: Champagne Sugar Contents [Diagram]


Dosage

The act of added sugar before corking a Champagne. This is often undertaken to counteract high acidity for a smooth and harmonious blend.


Doux

The sweetest type of Champagne on the scale, they consist of anything above 50 grams of sugar per litre. Once a favourite of the Tsars, they have since faded into obscurity.

Learn More: Champagne Sugar Contents [Diagram]


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E

Extra Brut

A dry Champagne that features no more than 6 grams of sugar per litre. Although there are some in circulation, they tend to be rarer than Brut and Brut Nature.

Learn More: Champagne Sugar Contents [Diagram]


Extra Dry

Despite the name, the Extra Dry is a sweeter variant of Champagne. It features 12-17 grams of sugar per litre.

Learn More: Champagne Sugar Contents [Diagram]


F

Fermentation

A process that takes place in two stages with Champagne. The juice is first fermented in steel or oak vats so to produce alcohol from the ye. It is then fermented in the bottle in order to allow the added yeast and sugar to create the effervescence.

Learn More: How Champagne Is Made


Fillette

A fillette is the traditional term for a half bottle of Champagne that contains 37.5 centilitres.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


G

Grand Cru

The top 17 villages recognised for their exceptional grapes for making Champagne using the defunct échelle des crus.

Learn More: What Are Crus?


Grande Marque

Grandes Marques are the most famous Champagne brands that made up a union of Champagne makers. Although the Syndicat des Grandes Marques no longer exists, the term is used as a form of recognition.


H

Any suggestions or requests for words starting with this letter? Leave a comment below!


I

Imperial Pint

A now defunct measurement, the Imperial Pint bottle was famed for being Churchill’s favourite. Slightly larger than the Fillette, it contains 47 cl of Champagne or a conventional pint.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


J

Jéroboam

Named after the founder of the kingdom of Israel, the Jéroboam is a 3-litre bottle of Champagne.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


K

Any suggestions or requests for words starting with this letter? Leave a comment below!


L

Lattes, Sur

This term is used when storing bottles on their side in order to save space. Bottles are stacked like this until they’re placed upside down or “sur pointe” for riddling.


Lies / Lees

Lees (French: “lees”) are the yeast deposits left in a bottle after fermentation. A Champagne is said to be “on lees” during its 15-month minimum ageing process.

Learn More: How Champagne Is Made


Liqueur d’Expédition

Before corking, a blend of sugar and wine will be added to the Champagne to create its final flavour.

Learn More: How Champagne Is Made


Liqueur de Tirage

Made from a combination of wine, yeast and sugar, the liqueur de tirage is added to the Champagne just before its second fermentation. This concoction will create the Champagne’s effervescence.

Learn More: How Champagne Is Made


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M

Maceration

See Saignée.


Magnum

One of the most famous larger bottle sizes, a Magnum consists of twice the volume of a Champenoise. This comes to 1.5 litres or 50 Oz.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


Malolactic Fermentation

A relatively new process where a special bacteria is added to a vat of wine during fermentation. This ensures that the wine becomes creamy rather than sharply tart.


Moût

The moût is the must or leftovers from the pressed grapes. This is often used to create a liqueur known as Ratafia.


Méthode Traditionnelle

The method of making sparkling wines as outlined and enforced in Champagne. Any winemakers outside of the region using the same method can only refer to it as méthode traditionnelle rather than “Champagne”.


Methasalem

The oldest person recorded in the Old Testament, the Mathasalem is a 6-litre Champagne bottle.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


Millésime

If the harvest shows particular promise, the Champagne house can declare a millésime. This will allow them to use that only particular harvest of grapes to produce a vintage Champagne.


Montagne de Reims

The most northern Champagne subregion that is located between its symbolic capitals, Epernay and Reims.

Learn More: Champagne Producing Sub-Regions


Muselet

The technical name for the wire cage that holds the cork in place.


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N

Nabuchodonosor

Named after Nebuchadnezzar, the king to conquer Jerusalem and turn Babylon into a beautiful city, it’s a whopping 15-litre Champagne bottle.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


Négociant

Rather than growing their own grapes, they will buy it from other producers in order to make their own blends. Sometimes they will also own their own vineyards but will use more than 20% of grapes that are sourced elsewhere.


Non-Dosé

See Brut Nature.


O

Any suggestions or requests for words starting with this letter? Leave a comment below!


P

Perlage

Literally “pearling”, the word is a colourful French term for “bubbles”.


Pinot Meunier

The second major red grape used for making Champagne, it accounts for 32% of regional production. Pinot Meunier is mostly found in the Vallée de la Marne subregion and is able to age faster than its counterparts.

Learn More: Champagne Grapes


Pinot Noir

Champagne’s most prominent grape accounts for 39% of the region’s production. Although it is a fragile grape that requires longer to fully mature, it is a much more fruit-forward that Pinot meunier. It is mostly found in the Montagne de Reims and Côte des Bar subregions.

Learn More: Champagne Grapes


Placomusophile

A passionate collector of Champagne plaques. Although unknown abroad, the hobby has a strong following in France.


Plaque

The metal capsule that covers a cork, which is held together by the Muselet.


Pointe, Sur

During fermentation, a Champagne bottle is placed upside down. This allows the yeast cells or “lees” to slowly fall to the neck, which facilitates the dégorgement.


Premier Cru

These account for 42 Champagne villages that produce an exceptional quality, which is slightly less than the more prestigious Grand Cru.

Learn More: What Are Crus?


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Q

Any suggestions or requests for words starting with this letter? Leave a comment below!


R

Récoltant-Coopérateur [RC]

A Récoltant-Coopérateur is a type of Cooperative where a number of independent producers group together in producing a Champagne under a single label.

Learn More: Different Champagne Producer Identifiers


Récoltant-Manipulant [RM]

A Récoltant-Manipulant is a type of producer that makes wine using their own grown grapes.

Learn More: Different Champagne Producer Identifiers


Réhoboam

Named after the first king of Judea, the Réhoboam is a 4.5 litre bottle of Champagne.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


Remuage / Riddling

The process of twisting bottles when sur pointe to ensure the lies fall towards the bottle’s neck.


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S

Saignée

The act of creating rosé wine by allowing the skins to gently macerate in the juice. The skin’s colour will impart in the juice whilst creating a unique flavour.


Salmanazar

This 9-litre bottle of Champagne is named after one of the five Biblical Assyrian kings.

Learn More: Champagne Bottle Sizes [Infographic]


Sec

This misleadingly-named Champagne consists of a concentration between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per litre. Its name means “dry” in French and has endured due to the original Russian tastes that preferred exceedingly sweet sparkling wine.

Learn More: Champagne Sugar Contents [Diagram]


Sekt

The German term for Champagne and sparkling wine.


Still Wine

A wine that isn’t sparkling.


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T

Taille [Pruning]

The taille is the act of trimming the grapevines just after winter before it begins growing again. This is touched up during the late spring to remove any unnecessary green growth.


Taille [Juice]

The taille is also the second part of the pressed grapes that’s perceived as lower quality. It will only be added to a Champagne if the harvest proved to be exceptional.


Terroir

A terroir is a French term used to describe a specific locality that grows a grapes with a particular character. Each site can yield different results even when adjacent to one another.


Tirage

The final act when producing Champagne, it is the name used when referring to the process of corking the bottle.


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U

Any suggestions or requests for words starting with this letter? Leave a comment below!


V

V-Vallée de la Marne

The Vallée de la Marne is Champagne’s most western subregion known for its rich Pinot Meunier grapes.

Learn More: Champagne Producing Sub-Regions


Vintage

Although most is blended from various harvests, a vintage is a millésime that features Champagne from only a specific year.


W

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X

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Y

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Z

Zéro-Dosage

See Brut Nature.


Other Resources

If you’re interested, we have a range of relevant guides to help you learn more about Champagne:

Bespoke Unit Champagne Glossary
Reviewed by Roger T, on .
"Really helpful, thanks!. I particularly appreciated that we can make requests for new terms too."
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2 Comments

  1. Supratim mitra September 30, 2018 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Very good and informative

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