In preparation for Fino's upcoming Champagne and tapas dinner, I thought I would read up on the region and its wines.
Champagne Vocabulary List:
I took a class in college on Classic Buddhist Texts and had this fantastic professor who taught me how to write, edit, and that the way to learn about something in its entirety was to learn its language. The first step to learning Buddhism was learning the language. I remember studying pages of Sanskrit in my college dorm room and you know what? My professor, who was fluent in fourteen languages, was more than right. Why can't the same be applied to wine? First step is to learn the language so thank you Professor Roccosalvo for teaching me the art of a vocabulary list. Oh and thanks to Jancis Robinson and Karen MacNeill.
Lees- spent yeasts.
Sur lie- on the lees, when wine rests with its spent yeasts.
Assemblage- making a house’s nonvintage wine by blending dozens of still wines from different years.
Liqueur de tirage- combination of sugar and wine, then blended with yeasts to spur a second fermentation within a bottle.
Veuve- widow (like "veuve cliquot", ahhhhhh).
Pupitres (desk)- A-frames where Champagne bottles are inserted for the purpose of riddling.
Riddling (rémuage)- when bottles in an a-frame are turned slightly and upended a fraction.
Gyropalettes- Machines that riddle.
Dégorgement- Each upside-down bottle is placed in a brine solution that freezes the neck of the bottle. Bottle is then turned upright and cap removed and the frozen yeasts shoot out.
Liqueur d’expédition- combination of reserve wine and sugar added to champagne to fill remainder of bottle after yeasts are out.
Dosage- sweetness level which determines how dry and sweet the wine will be.
Cuvée- blend of dry base wines.
Clos- wine brand, vintner, or estate.
Blanc de Blancs- champagne made from 100% Chardonnay, the best coming from Côte de Blancs, can be nonvintage or vintage.
Blanc de Noirs (whites from reds)- pink-tinged golden Champagne made entirely from red grapes, very rare
Grower champagnes- from family firms or small growers, not large houses, smaller number of base wines, more likely to reflect terroir.