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Wine Lover's Guide to Champagne

Wine Lover's Guide to Champagne

The bubbly produced in the Champagne region of France is the go-to wine for celebration, and the Champagne winemakers’ reputation for excellence is recognized the world over. Here’s what you need to know about the sparkling wines produced in this UNESCO World Heritage–listed region.

Must-Try Varietals

In this part of France, there is one particular wine style that monopolizes oenophiles’ attention: Champagne. Champagne producers create the eponymous sparkling wine using pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay grapes, which must be carefully pruned, picked, sorted, pressed, fermented, and blended according to strict regulations designed to ensure the quality of wines from the protected appellation.

Champagnes can be broken down into several distinct styles. There are blanc de blancs (made entirely from chardonnay grapes), blanc de noirs (made entirely from pinot noir and/or pinot meunier), and rosé (made either by adding a small amount of red wine to the blend or by exposing the skin during pressing). It can be categorized as being non-vintage (a blend of different years and crus), vintage (made from grapes harvested during a single year), or prestige cuvée (a premium product made with the vineyard’s best grapes). Villages in the Champagne region are classified to help determine grape prices, with grand cru being the highest classification, followed by premier cru and autre cru.

Must-Do Experiences

  • Tour the cellars of legendary Champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Veuve Clicquot, and Taittinger.

  • Take part in Champagne tastings during a wine tour of the region.

  • Enjoy a picnic amid the vineyards.

  • Take part in a chef-led culinary workshop, creating dishes that will pair well with Champagne.

  • Explore Hautvillers, the birthplace of Dom Pérignon, the Benedictine monk credited with creating Champagne.

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