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Whether you're looking for a bottle to enjoy with dinner tonight, or want to present the wine aficionado in your life with a great vintage, we offer a look at some of the world's key wine regions, the different types of wine, pairing wine with food, and a handy wine terminology guide. Cheers!


My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne   John Maynard Keynes

Perhaps the quintessential celebratory drink , sparkling wine is created when a yeast and sugar solution is added to dry table wine. The resulting fermentation creates tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide in the bottle.

The terms "Champagne" and "sparkling wine" are often used interchangeably, but only those wines produced in the Champagne region of France can be truly called Champagnes. Those made elsewhere are sparkling wines, although many are produced using "methode Champenoise" and are labelled accordingly.

Champagne was "discovered" accidentally by French monk Dom Pérignon. In his management of wine cellars, he discovered that the bubbles were the result of an incomplete fermentation process, which stopped during the cooler months and resumed when the weather began to warm. At the time, the bubbles were the mark of bad wine-making, but after some experimentation with grape blends, Pérignon -- and those around him -- came to realize that the resulting wine was actually quite pleasant.

The main two grapes used are the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, and sparkling wine can be made from each separately or both together.

Sparkling wine can be:

  • Brut (very dry),
  • Extra Sec or Extra Dry (dry),
  • Sec (semi-sweet), or
  • Demi Sec (sweet). Champage is best drunk chilled, and typically does not improve with age.
Types of sparkling wine:
  • Blanc de Noir -- This version is made from the dark Pinot Noir grape, but the skins are removed before the color is extracted. Its color varies from gold to bright pink, and its flavour is full-bodied and complex.
  • Blanc de Blanc -- Made entirely from all green (white) grapes -- usually the Chardonnay and Pinot Gris --the version is light and fruity.
  • Champagne -- Made from Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay grapes, this version contains little residual sugar, just enough to balance the acidity.
  • Spumante -- "Sparkling" in Italian, spumante has a hint of honey. Brut is dry, Asti Spumante is sweet.