During a recent stroll through the produce aisle of my favorite grocery store, I saw a display labeled “Champagne Grapes.” They are beautiful bunches of small red-ish grapes. And, they look really good. But, the first thing that came to my mind was to question the naming of these grapes. Because (spoiler alert) Champagne is not made from Champagne grapes.
Champagne grapes are very small, about the size of a pea, and are round, and grow in tightly packed clusters. The seedless berries can be dark red, deep magenta, or black and have delicate, thin skin that almost pops open when bitten. Also known as Black Corinth grapes, or when dried, the Zante currant, Champagne grapes are the smallest variety of all seedless grapes and are commonly used for baking and garnishes.
So, this may leave you asking “What grapes are used to produce Champagne?”
Here’s a little bit about Champagne.
Sparkling wines produced in the small French region of Champagne are the only sparkling wines that may legally be labeled 'Champagne.' And because of this region's northern location and cool weather, three primary grapes have been found to grow best and hence are the basis for Champagne. The three grapes are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. To this day, most Champagne relies on these grapes. But, Champagne producers are also allowed to use Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbane. But, when these latter grapes are used, they are typically used in very small quantities.
So, sorry, but no Champagne grapes are used in the production of Champagne. But, they are quite good to eat! Here’s to enjoying a nice glass of Champagne and some Champagne grapes. Cheers!