5 Things You Ought to Know About Champagne

Glasses of Champagne

You claim to be a true wine connoisseur. What else do you know about champagne, besides its bubbly, expensive nature, or that it is a mark of celebratory moments?

Many people think they are Bubbly experts, but it would surprise you how little they know. If you feel you could learn a bit more, that is the essence of this post. By the next 5 minutes or so, you should be able to sound like the real oenophile you are.

 

  • It is not champagne if it doesn’t come from Champagne

 

This is a common mistake many people make. Wine from Australia or California may sparkle, but it is not Champagne. Until recently, many sparkling wine manufacturers exploited a loop hole in the international nomenclature of wine branding and flagrantly branded their wines “champagne”, thus infuriating the French.

It wasn’t until after a lengthy resolution that it was agreed that no genuine and respectful winemaker outside the Appellation of Champagne should name their wine (no matter how impeccably brewed), Champagne.

 

  • It is uncultured to pop a cork and spray Champagne all over your friends…

 

…Unless you have won the English Premiership, or The Grand Prix or a similar prestigious sporting event. Be careful of popping the cork loudly. Gently remove the foil and the wire, twist the bottle- not the cork- so that it makes a muted sound, and not a thundering explosion.

Also, make sure you hold on to the cork to prevent it from flying off and hitting someone in the eye, or killing an endangered bird species as in that iconic scene from Dumb and Dumber. Champagne drinking should herald joy, not pain.

 

  • The mystery of Champagne bubbles, solved

 

Bubbly is no secret to the science world. When you pop a champagne cork (carefully), the yeast ferments sugars to form the C02 gas that you see as bubbles. What about the gas “trains” you see forming up the glass to give the wine its eponymous sparkle?

According to scientists at the University of Reims in France, they are caused by tiny gas pockets and fibres trapped on the inside of the glass- probably from dust or a wiping towel- thus prompting the rise of the bubble trains. So, yes, bubbles are caused by…dirt.

 

  • Champagnes must be served in flutes

 

Never mind what the CEO of Krug says, flutes are the best way to drink champagne. In fact, the classy way. Anybody who serves champagne in a ‘bowl on a stem’ is doing it wrong. This is not about snobbery, there is an actual science to it.

The large surface area of wider glasses causes the bubbles to dissipate faster. That is not how we want to enjoy sparkling wine. Oh, and anybody who suggests putting ribbons on wine glasses shouldn’t be suggesting anything again.

  • Never freeze champagne, or toss ice cubes into your glass

 

Beware of sommeliers (or anyone) who puts ice cubes in champagne, they are not to be trusted. Think about what it would do to the delicate aroma of fine wine! It is akin to scratching the paint of your Rolls with a razor. I don’t even want to imagine it.

Likewise, never put champagne in the fridge to “chill”. Rather, use an ice-bucket which has a combination of water and ice. For better results, cool the bottle in your cellar this way for about 30-40 minutes at 10 Celsius for mature wines, and 8 Celsius for younger wines.

Champagne is a delicate brew and should be treated as such!

 

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