Sparkling Wine

Study Guides > Varieties > Sparkling Wine

Signature Styles & Characteristics

The best sparkling wines are made from blends of several grape varieties, notably Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier (the classic trio used in Champagne, France). Other secondary grapes include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Muscat. Although any grape can be interpreted in innovative and at times, outlying styles, the below chart/graphic represents the preponderance of what you will find in California:

  • Acid (potential)

    Sparkling Wine: 100 percent on a scale from Low to High of Acid (potential).

  • Alcohol (potential)

    Sparkling Wine: 50 percent on a scale from Low to High of Alcohol (potential).

  • Body (weight on palate)

    Sparkling Wine: 60 percent on a scale from Light to Full of Body (weight on palate).

Dryness/Residual Sugar

Brut Sauvage/Brut Zéro/Brut Nature, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec, Doux

Style (Labeling) Perception Approximate Dosage (Sugar as % of 750 mL Bottle)
Brut zero, Brut Nature, or sauvage Bone-dry 0.0 - 0.5
Brut No sweetness 0.5 - 1.5
Extra Dry Off-dry 1.2 - 2.0
Demi-sec Slighly sweet 1.7 - 3.5
Sec Sweet 3.3 - 5.0
Doux Very sweet More than 5.0
Signature Styles
Production Methods
Traditional Method (aka Méthode Traditionnelle or Méthode Champenoise), Transfer, Charmat (aka Cuve Close), Carbonation
House/proprietary Cuveé, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Rosé, Cuvée Prestige/Tête de Cuvée...(all can be either vintage-dated or non-vintage/multi-vintage)
Texture/ Effervescence
Volume/force of bubbles: Moderately effervescent to fully effervescent; texturally: prickling to smooth and creamy
5 to 15 years, pedigree-dependent; the very best bottles may live even longer
Varieties Used by Style
House/Proprietary Cuvée
Primarily Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier
Blanc de Noirs
Primarily Pinot Noir (exclusively red grapes)
Blanc de Blancs
Primarily Chardonnay (exclusively white grapes)
Primarily Pinot Noir (although white grapes may be included in blend)
Cuvée Prestige/Tête de Cuvée
Primarily Pinot Noir, Chardonnay


  • Np Fruit 3293668 000000


    Cherry, lemon, lime, peach, apricot, tangerine, melon (green, orange), apple (green, yellow), pear (green, yellow, brown), pineapple, passion fruit, lychee, raspberry, strawberry, cucumber
  • Floral


    Honeysuckle, rose, gardenia, freesia, apple blossom, lime blossom, mint
  • Icon Earth


    Mineral, chalk, dust, mushroom
  • Icon Other

    Extended age (tirage)

    Toast, brioche, French bread (baguette), biscuit, hazelnut, almond, walnut, vanilla wafer, nougat, gingerbread, dried fruit (fig, raisin), coffee, toffee, white chocolate
  • Icon Other


    Yeast, dough/raw bread, soy, cream, Vegemite, plain yogurt, vanilla, honey, blond tobacco, melted butter