It’s every wine lover’s nightmare — butchering the pronunciation of a classic drink and looking like you pick wine without studying the label. For many, this is a fear born from a lived experience. To be fair, how could you know Rioja was pronounced like that?
When the holiday parties roll around, the fear goes up a gear. When that dreaded question: “what are you drinking” is turned toward you, you often just have to take a breath and dive in.
Or fall back on the tried and tested technique of mumbling into the glass and leaving at high speed.
But if you want to break out the Champagne Taittinger this year, there’s no need to worry. With this guide, you’ll be pronouncing it almost as good as a local (let’s be honest, no one gets French like the French do).
You’ll definitely be pronouncing it accurately enough to tell everyone at the party exactly what you’re enjoying.
How To Pronounce Champagne Taittinger
The first thing you need to learn is that you’re probably pronouncing “Champagne” wrong. Yes, every time you’ve confidently announced the word as sham-pain has, technically, been a mistake.
To pronounce Champagne correctly, you have to say it shahm-pan-yuh. It’s a much softer word, with none of the stresses so commonly found in English.
That said, the British/American pronunciation has become so widespread that, in most cases, no one is going to judge you for the fumble. Sham-pain may not be correct, but the chances are that everyone around you is pronouncing it the same way.
In France, however, this will not pass. And if you’re trying to pronounce Champagne Taittinger, you want to get the whole title right. French wine snobs would shudder to hear the butchered pronunciation.
When you really look at the word, it isn’t difficult to see why the pronunciation travelled so far from the original. That “gne” at the end isn’t natural to English. In fact, most of the “gne” words we use are borrowed (cologne, lasagne…).
So, to pronounce Champagne correctly, you need to soften all the a’s, and round off the ending.
Now we move onto the second half of the equation. Even sophisticated wine drinkers have a habit of getting Taittinger wrong, putting far too much stress on the middle syllable.
The correct pronunciation of Taittinger is tey-tehn-zhey.
Often, people pronounce Taittinger more like tay-teen-djuh. Even people who know a lot about wine say it this way, and suck all the life out of the word.
Again, that trickiest bit is the g and the n, although this time they come the other way round. In Taittinger, both the n and g are subtle sounds, masked in the middle of the world. If someone pronounces Taittinger with an obvious n or g sound, then they haven’t got it right.
So, put it all together, and you get: shahm-pan-yuh tey-tehn-zhey.
The best way to get used to it, is to keep on trying the pronunciation. Practice it a few times over to really get a feel for the word in the mouth.
And then you can dazzle everyone at the party with your impeccable French pronunciation (although, maybe leave the accent for another time).
Now you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to move on to some Taittinger varieties — and some other tricky French terms.
How To Pronounce Brut
For being such a small work, brut is perhaps one of the most difficult Champagne terms out there. It requires a mastery of the French tongue, and certain quirks of pronunciation that don’t come naturally to everyone.
So, the first thing you need to know is that you do pronounce the t. This can be confusing, because the French language is often about dropping letters rather than picking them up. But brut, being a very short word, keeps it’s t.
If you’ve been pronouncing it brew, assuming that’s what the French would do, then you’ve been saying it wrong.
The t is actually the easiest part of the word. Where things get tricky is that bru. The r needs to be ever so slightly rolled, and the u becomes an oo sound. Put together, it sounds impeccably French, which can be hard on tongues used to American words.
If you’re struggling to nail the pronunciation, don’t worry. The French r and u are tough, so you can get away with just saying broot. But whatever you do, don’t forget the t.
Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française And Brut Folies De La Marquetterie
Time to move on to some Taittinger varieties.
With Champagne, Taittinger, and Brut sorted, Champagne Taittinger Brut la Français should be fairly easy to wrap your tongue around. What you need to remember is that this is the feminine version of Française.
When you pronounce Français, the s at the end becomes silent. However, in Française, the s is pronounced. So, we say it: frahwn-seys.
Now to the trickier one. Champagne Taittinger Brut Folies de la Marquetterie looks like quite a mouthful, but it really isn’t so bad once you’ve gotten used to it. And the Fall inspired wine it lends the name to is worth making the effort for.
The correct pronunciation is foh-lee duh lah mar-ket-uh-ri. This is a rare French wine that’s pronounced roughly as you’d expect it to be. Practice a few times until it rolls off the tongue, and you’ll be sure to impress on a chilly Fall night when you break open the Taittinger.
The Easier Option: Champagne Taittinger Prestige Rosé
If the other options are looking like a headache, but you still want to impress, the Prestige Rosé is a Taittinger any mouth can get along with.
First, Rosé is pronounced as you expect it to be. The é lifts at the end, creating a lilting word that perfectly captures these fun wines. Prestige is practically the same in both French and English, just make sure to keep the g soft.
To add an extra French twist, try pronouncing the r the French way.
The Prestige Rosé is not only easy to say, it’s easy to drink. A particularly good drink for a Valentine’s Day or New Year’s celebration, and one you can still pronounce after a few glasses.
And The Harder One: Comtes De Champagne Blanc De Blancs
This is the finest beverage produced by Champagne Taittinger, with a name to match the history and complexity that makes up this fabulous drink. Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is sure to impress no matter how you pronounce it.
Without over-simplifying things, the first thing to know is that a lot of those letters never end up being said. Starting from the very first word, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is about knowing what to say and what to leave behind.
Roughly half of comtes goes missing in the pronunciation. The t, e, and s, are silent, leading to a correct pronunciation of kaw-m.
The first half is pronounced: kaw-m duh shahm-pan-yuh. Got it? Okay, now to move on to the slightly more confusing bit.
To say blanc de blancs, you don’t verbalize either of the c’s, and you ignore that s as well. The correct pronunciation is blahn duh blahn.
Wine drinkers might be already aware of this, as blanc is a fairly common wine term. If you’ve been pronouncing the c at the end of Sauvignon Blanc, don’t worry. That pronunciation is so common that it’s become pretty much accepted as the English variation.
So: kaw-m duh shahm-pan-yuh blahn duh blahn. Get that right, and you’ll be the one who earns a toast.
Some Other Pronunciation Tips
Pronouncing Champagne names correctly is always going to require a decent knowledge of French. Tricky, because French is a language with a myriad of rules and even more exceptions to those rules.
And it nearly always will be French, because if a Champagne isn’t from France, then it isn’t a Champagne.
What makes it even more confusing, is that some classic Champagnes are transplants from other countries (hello, Moët et Chandon). French rules suddenly go out the window!
Even a bad pronunciation can’t take away the style and quality of this fabulous Champagne. Once you feel those first drops of Taittinger dance on your tongue, complicated French rules suddenly seem less important.
But if you want to make sure the pronunciation is correct, the best way is muscle memory. Take a sip, say the word, and enjoy.