I'm woefully ignorant about champagne and wine in general. So when a friend sent me the following (to help part the veil of wine ignorance -- sigh, LOL) I thought I'd share it with you folks. I take no credit for the information and certainly don't vouch for its accuracy.
First...the subtle difference between sparkling wine and champagne. There is none. The only difference is that authentic 'champagne' comes from the Champagne region of
France. (Hey, I knew that one!) But as far as alcohol content, production, etc... it's the exact same stuff.
Here's the important part. Do you want a champagne that is more dry or sweet? That all depends on your preference, of course. But after you've polished off a few dozen bottles and you know what you like (but would I be able to remember what it was?)... this is a list of the common names you will find on Champagne labels, from driest to sweetest:
*Extra Brut, Brut Sauvage, Ultra Brut, Brut Integral, Brut Zero
*Extra Dry, Extra Sec
Brut is the most popular style, and often, the best grapes are reserved for Bruts.
And finally...Bottle size!: Because sparkling wine should be consumed when it is opened, size matters. Champagne comes in "splits" -- perfect for one or two -- all the way to the enormous Nebuchadnezzar (508 fluid ounces). If you want more volume than just a single bottle will afford you can get the showy magnums (nearly 51 ounces, or two bottles) Jeroboams (4 bottles) or even a Balthazar (16 bottles). Plus those huge empty bottles make great souvenirs!
So now you know...or maybe you already knew, lol. Just remember to drink responsibly, have a designated driver, and celebrate the New Year with someone you love :D