Champagne and Sparkling Wine are simply wines that have been infused with Carbon Dioxide, or CO2.

In Europe, use of the term "Champagne" is limited to sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France and produced according to the méthode champenoise (explained above). Everything else must simply be labeled "sparkling wine."

Like any other wine, Champagne and Sparkling Wines may be made from white or red grapes, though true champagne may only be made from Pinot Noir (red), Pinot Meunier (red) or Chardonnay (white) grapes. This applies only to champagne; many fine sparkling wines are made with other grape varietals, such as Asti Spumante, which is made from Muscat.

Several terms you are likely to see on a sparkling wine bottle:

Cuvée: May refer to the blend of wines used to make champagne or a single wine destined for the blend, as in vin de cuvée.

Blanc de blancs: Champagne made from white grapes.

Blanc de noirs: Champagne made from red (black) grapes.

Rosé: Champagne that has some red wine added to it, for a blush color. For a delicious sparkling red, try Italian Brachetto d'Acqui (BRAH-keh-toh dah-KEE).

Sweetness Levels:

Extra Brut: - 0-1.5% residual sugar (bone dry)
Brut: 1.5% residual sugar (very dry)
Extra Dry: 1.2-2% residual sugar (dry to partially dry)
(Yes, "Extra Dry" is actually partially sweet, with more sugar than "Brut".)
Sec: 2-3% residual sugar (partially dry to sweet)
Demi Sec: 3-5% residual sugar (sweet)

Doux - 5%+ residual sugar (very sweet, typically a dessert wine only)

Champagne may be either vintage or non-vintage. For vintage Champagne, all of the grapes must be from the same year and the wine must be aged at least three years from the first January following the harvest. Non-vintage Champagnes may use grapes from several years' harvests and must be aged only one year from the first January following the most recent harvest.


There are two reasons why you might want to decant your wine: There may be some sediment in the bottom of the bottle, and you want to give the wine a bigger space to breathe before you drink it.

Decanting a wine allows it to aerate, opening the flavors. While sediment is unpleasant to drink, it is completely harmless. Older red wines, especially old Ports, develop sediment over time, as tannins and pigments bond together and precipitate out of the wine. Sediment in younger wines is usually the result of minimal filtering, which some people prefer, believing that these particles help a wine retain its complexity and color.

First choose a decanter. Decanters are usually made of glass, and should be large enough to hold an entire bottle of wine and leave some breathing space. Before decanting, allow the bottle to stand upright for several hours, giving the solids a chance to settle. When pouring, place a light source behind the bottle so you can see the sediment, and pour the wine into the decanter slowly, stopping just before the sediment reaches the neck of the bottle. You may have to leave an inch or so of wine behind. If the sediment refuses to settle, try pouring the wine through cheesecloth, gauze or even a coffee filter.

Some wines without sediment can benefit from decanting, particularly if they are young or full-bodied and complex red wines. Contact with oxygen can soften harsh tannins and let fruit flavors come forward. When you are decanting for this purpose, let the wine splash a bit while pouring into the vessel, and give it a few good swirls before letting the decanted wine sit for 30 to 60 minutes.

Older wines should be served shortly after decanting, without too much splashing or swirling, as too much aeration will begin to erode the delicate aromas they’ve acquired with age.

Temperature Guide

Serving your wine at the correct temperature can greatly enhance its flavor and aroma, but many people — and restaurants — serve their red wine too warm and their white wine too cold. Keep a few simple rules in mind.Red wine served at room temperature.

Red Wine

Red wine is at its best when served at room temperature, which should be around 59–64 degrees (Fahrenheit). Exceptions include Lambrusco, young Beaujolais or Gamay wines, and other soft, light-bodied reds, which should be slightly chilled to around 50–55 degrees. (But keep in mind that Cru Beaujolais is best at room temperature.)

White Wine

White wine is most often served chilled to less than 55 degrees, but here too there are exceptions, particularly for full-bodied whites.The more complex and fuller in body a white wine is, the warmer it should be served — somewhere between 54 and 60 degrees. Sweet wines and light, crisp whites show their best at temperatures of 45–50 degrees.


Generally speaking, rosé should be chilled to the same temperature as white wine — 45–50 degrees.

Sparkling Wine, Champagne

Serve sparkling wine and Champagne on the cooler side, between 45 and 50 degrees.

Dessert Wine

Many dessert wines are served chilled, with the notable exception of vintage Port.



Whether sweet or dry, white or red, robust or light, wine requires very specific serving procedures in order to reach its full flavor potential. In addition to proper serving temperatures, each type of wine requires a specific style of glass for service. Understanding the different types of wine glasses and what makes them ideal for one type of wine over another is essential to getting the most out of your wine collection.

Parts Of A Wine Glass

The Foot – Allows your glass to stand upright

The Stem – Allows you to hold your wine glass without the heat from your hands warming your wine, and without creating smudges on the bowl which will distract from the visual enjoyment of your wine

The Bowl – Serves a myriad of purposes; here you’ll find the most variation between glasses. The bowls of all wine glasses will be tapered upward with a slightly narrower opening at the top than at the bottom. This shape helps to capture and distribute the wine’s aroma toward your mouth and nose.

The bowls of wine glasses are also designed to allow an amount of surface area appropriate to the wine – red wine glasses will have a larger amount of surface area for the wine to allow it to breathe, while white wine glasses will have a smaller amount of surface area. Champagne glasses will have a very small amount of surface area for the wine so that it retains its carbonation

The Rim – Imperative to achieving the full experience from your wines. The thinner the rim, the less the glass distracts from the wine as you sip; a good wine glass will have a “cut” rim that is smooth to the touch and does not inhibit the wine as it flows out of the glass. Less expensive glassware may have rims that are rolled or bumpy – while still functional, and very much practical for everyday use, these wine glasses may distract from the wine itself

The Color – The best wine glasses are crystal clear to allow the beauty and subtleties of the wine to show through. Colored glasses and those with decorative accents may offer a beautiful appearance, however, if showing off your wines, clear glasses are the way to go.

Crystal vs. Glass: How to Choose

Wine glasses are typically made out of glass or crystal – but what’s the difference? All crystal is glass, but not all glass is crystal. In general, it is the lead content of glass that is the main determinant in the classification of something as either glass or crystal. The presence of lead softens the glass in crystal, therefore making it more easily cut and engraved. It also increases the weight of the glass and causes the glass to diffract light; traditional glass on the other hand is generally lighter in weight than crystal, and light will not diffract through it.

In traditional lead glassware, the lead has a tendency to leach out of the crystal. To combat this, today’s crystal glassware is typically unleaded. Unleaded crystal uses barium carbonate and zinc and titanium oxides to replace the traditional lead oxide that’s often found in crystal glassware. These glasses feature similar properties as lead crystal, such as temperature control and the ability to accentuate the aroma and flavors of wine. They also feature a similar refractive index to lead crystal, but are lighter in weight.

Although the highest quality crystal glasses are thought to provide a better wine tasting experience, the high cost of these glasses often prevents many from purchasing them. They are also very fragile, so you will experience a higher replacement cost than with thicker plain glass.