Reading Question Types Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

In today’s reading practice we are going to work on a number of reading subskills. First, we will think about the general meaning of whole paragraphs. Second, we will search for individual words in the text and think about specific meaning.

First ​​skim the passage to get the general gist (idea) of each paragraph. To do this, read the first and last sentence of the paragraph and identify key words/names/dates. Try to not take longer than 4 minutes to skim the whole text. When you finish skimming,  complete the tasks found below.

The Origins of Champagne

Picture
I.             Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of north-east France, with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. Later, churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims, and Champagne was served as part of coronation festivities. The Champenois were envious of the reputation of the wines made by their Burgundian neighbours to the south and sought to produce wines of equal acclaim. However, the northerly climate of the region gave the Champenois a unique set of challenges in making red wine. At the far extremes of sustainable viticulture, the grapes would struggle to ripen fully and often would have bracing levels of acidity and low sugar levels. The wines would be lighter bodied and thinner than the Burgundy wines they were seeking to outdo.

II.            Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, though he did make important contributions to the production and quality of both still and sparkling Champagne wines. The oldest recorded sparkling wine is Blanquette de Limoux, which was apparently invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Carcassonne in 1531. They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended. Over a century later, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented Champagne. Merret presented a paper at the Royal Society, in which he detailed what is now called méthode champenoise, in 1662. Merret’s discoveries coincided also with English glass-makers’ technical developments that allowed bottles to be produced that could withstand the required internal pressures during secondary fermentation. French glass-makers at this time could not produce bottles of the required quality or strength. As early as 1663 the poet Samuel Butler referred to “brisk champagne”.

III.           In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called “the devil’s wine” (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an exponential growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850. In 2007, Champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles.

IV.          In the 19th century Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today. The trend towards drier Champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne was created for the British in 1876.


​Exercise 1

First, here are our tips for matching headings:
  1. Familiarise yourself with the list of headings.
  2. Look for and underline keywords/phrases in each heading. As you do this think of synonyms for the key words. Be careful of headings that seem similar. Think about what makes them different.
  3. Skim over the passage to get the overall gist of each paragraph and match the headings to the paragraphs as you read. Reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph should help you to do this. Don’t get stuck on words that you don’t understand, this type of task is about the general meaning.
  4. In the test, write you answers on your answer paper straight away. You will not receive any extra time to transfer your answers.

The text is repeated below. ​Match a heading to a paragraph by selecting the correct heading above each paragraph.

Select the Correct Headings

A sour turn
The early history of wine growing in the north of France
Changes that led to modern champagne
Dispelling myths about sparkling wine

1.
Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of north-east France, with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. Later, churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims, and Champagne was served as part of coronation festivities. The Champenois were envious of the reputation of the wines made by their Burgundian neighbours to the south and sought to produce wines of equal acclaim. However, the northerly climate of the region gave the Champenois a unique set of challenges in making red wine. At the far extremes of sustainable viticulture, the grapes would struggle to ripen fully and often would have bracing levels of acidity and low sugar levels. The wines would be lighter bodied and thinner than the Burgundy wines they were seeking to outdo.
2.
Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, though he did make important contributions to the production and quality of both still and sparkling Champagne wines. The oldest recorded sparkling wine is Blanquette de Limoux, which was apparently invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Carcassonne in 1531. They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended. Over a century later, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented Champagne. Merret presented a paper at the Royal Society, in which he detailed what is now called méthode champenoise, in 1662. Merret’s discoveries coincided also with English glass-makers’ technical developments that allowed bottles to be produced that could withstand the required internal pressures during secondary fermentation. French glass-makers at this time could not produce bottles of the required quality or strength. As early as 1663 the poet Samuel Butler referred to “brisk champagne”.
3.
In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called “the devil’s wine” (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an exponential growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850. In 2007, Champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles.
4.
In the 19th century Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today. The trend towards drier Champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne was created for the British in 1876.

Not confident about the answers? Click on our answer guides below for answer explanations. 
​Paragraph 1

The early history of wine growing in the north of France

‘Early history’ helps us identify the paragraph. Since the text is arranged from the earliest times (5th century) to the modern day, it is easy to identify this heading with the first paragraph.

Dispelling myths about sparkling wine

‘Dispelling myths’ means to correct popular ideas that are wrong.
At the start of paragraph 2 we read ‘Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine…’
‘Contrary’ means in disagreement with so this sentence is an example of dispelling a myth. In this case, the myth is that Dom Pérignon invented sparkling wine.

This is an example of why it is good to have a wide vocabulary for the IELTS test. Remember to learn, write and use 10 – 15 new words every week!

Paragraph 3

Changes that led to modern champagne

When skimming the text before you looked at the questions, you should have noticed that paragraph 3 includes the dates 1844 and 2007. This gives us a clue that this paragraph contains information about the way Champagne changed from the past up to the modern day.

Paragraph 4

A sour turn

‘Sour’ is the opposite to ‘sweet’, while ‘turn’ here means ‘change’. In paragraph IV we read that ‘19th century Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today’, meaning that modern Champagnes are sourer than Champagnes of the past.


Exercise 2

Click on a word in the passage that matches the meaning, then click again on the box next to the meaning. 
I. Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of north-east France, with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. Later, churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims, and Champagne was served as part of coronation festivities. The Champenois were envious of the reputation of the wines made by their Burgundian neighbours to the south and sought to produce wines of equal acclaim. However, the northerly climate of the region gave the Champenois a unique set of challenges in making red wine. At the far extremes of sustainable viticulture, the grapes would struggle to ripen fully and often would have bracing levels of acidity and low sugar levels. The wines would be lighter bodied and thinner than the Burgundy wines they were seeking to outdo.

II. Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, though he did make important contributions to the production and quality of both still and sparkling Champagne wines. The oldest recorded sparkling wine is Blanquette de Limoux, which was apparently invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Carcassonne in 1531. They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended. Over a century later, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented Champagne. Merret presented a paper at the Royal Society, in which h
e
detailed what is now called méthode champenoise, in 1662. Merret’s discoveries coincided also with English glass-makers’ technical developments that allowed bottles to be produced that could withstand the required internal pressures during secondary fermentation. French glass-makers at this time could not produce bottles of the required quality or strength. As early as 1663 the poet Samuel Butler referred to “brisk champagne”.

III. In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called “the devil’s wine” (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an exponential growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles by 1850. In 2007, Champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles.

IV. In the 19th century Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today. The trend towards drier Champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne was created for the British in 1876.  

Click or touch a word above
1. The science of producing wines (noun) paragraph 1
2. To do something in a better way than someone else (verb) paragraph 1
3. A set of ideas than many people think are true (adjective + noun) paragraph 2
4. To be able to not be damaged or broken (verb) paragraph 2
5. The past tense of a loud sound caused by gas (verb) paragraph 3
6. A small device that stops corks exploding out of champagne bottles (noun) paragraph 3
7. An adjective which indicates that a change is increasingly rapid/fast (adjective) paragraph 3
8. A preposition which indicates that a change took place up to a certain time.(preposition) paragraph 3
9. A synonym for fashion (noun) paragraph 4
10. An official name or categorization of something (noun) paragraph 4

​Remember that you should be trying to learn roughly 15 relevant new words a week as you prepare for the IELTS test. Which words in the task above are new for you? 

We hope you liked today’s lesson. Please leave your comments and questions below.

When you are ready, we can begin Reading Practice 7 | Flow Charts and Vocabulary

Check out our other free reading exercises:

Reading Practice 1 – Short answer questions and headings
Reading Practice 2 – Matching sentence endings
Reading Practice 3 – Matching headings and sentence completion
Reading Practice 4 – True / False / Not Given questions
Reading Practice 5 – Summary and Sentence Completion, T / F / NG questions