What You Need to Know About Champagne

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY TRAVELING VINEYARD ON DECEMBER 29, 2018

As long as I can remember, I’ve had an incredible passion for Champagne. Champagne was my very first experience with fine wine, and has become a regular part of my wine drinking. Champagne is not simply a bottle of bubbly wine, however …

What is Champagne?

Champagne is not a grape or a style, it is a geographical region in northern France. In order for a wine to be called Champagne, it must come from this region, and it must adhere to various rules and laws that include specific growing conditions to its wine making technique.

Champagne must be made in the Methode Champenoise, or Méthode Traditionelle (Traditional Method). This is a very intricate and time consuming wine making process that involves a second fermentation in the very bottle it will later be sold in. This can often, in part, account for the hefty prices many bottles of Champagne command.

How Do You Properly Store Champagne?

As with all wine, you want to store your bottles of Champagne away from bright or artificial light and maintain a consistent and cool temperature (ideally 44-50 degrees F). Long term storage should be with the bottles on their sides in a wine rack or in a wine cellar.

What’s the Best Way to “Pop” the Cork?

Although the loud POP sound of a bottle of Champagne is synonymous with celebration, it is not the proper and safe way to open your bubbly. The first step is to remove the foil, then to loosen the wine cage (this should take 6 twists of the wire tab). Next, drape a towel or cloth over the cork and cage, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and away from yourself and others, and while firmly holding the cork in place, slowly twist the bottle from its base. You want a very soft “pop” of the cork into your hands.

How to Serve Champagne

There are various shapes of glassware in which to serve your Champagne, such as a flute (tall and narrow) or a coupe (wide and shallow), or even various white wine glasses. The depth of a glass can really influence the aromatic release of a sparkling wine. There is much controversy about which shape is best, so my advice is to try different glasses and choose your favorite. My personal favorite is a traditional Champagne flute, simply for the aesthetics and the ability to see the bubbles dancing to the top of the glass. To me, this is a symbol of celebration.

How to Pair Champagne

When we think of Champagne, we think of celebration and decadence. Caviar, smoked salmon, exquisite French cheese—each of these are a match made in heaven with a beautiful glass of Champagne. As someone who enjoys Champagne on a regular, non-celebratory basis, these luxurious foods simply aren’t always on my menu. One incredibly delicious everyday pairing is, believe it or not, French fries! There isn’t a single other wine this New Englander would rather pair with freshly fried fish and chips than a glass of Champagne. Fresh fried seafood, goat cheese, fish tacos, fresh strawberries, even deviled eggs are simple everyday pairings that are sure to enhance the Champagne experience. Shellfish, such as shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, and lobster are other delicious dinner options. High acid, salt, and fat content in your food pairings will be sure to pair wonderfully with the high acid content of your Champagne. Cheers!

Tour de France – French Wine Review

Within this past year, I became a Certified French Wine Scholar with the Wine Scholar Guild. I have always had an enormous appreciation for French viticulture and viniculture, so being able to immerse myself in studying these topics intensely was a dream come true. As much love as I had prior to my certification course, my passion for French wine has increased exponentially, and it was a thrilling ride to be able to curate and review the French wine selections for Boston Wine School‘s September 2018 Flash Sale. This tour of France is a wonderful and exciting way to understand and taste terroir in your glass, seeing the differences and nuances of various popular French wine regions, and even the differences between sub-regions!

Each of these wines are what I consider to be “food wines”. The French have mastered the art of food and wine pairing for daily enjoyment. I urge you to decant your bottle of choice and let it breathe while you prepare a delicious meal, or perhaps even a charcuterie board of meat, cheeses, nuts, olives, and dark chocolate. By the end of your food preparation, your wine should be ready to be thoroughly enjoyed as a condiment to your food of choice. Cheers!
01Benedictus02RochMillon03LePreduMoine04ChateauColombe05ChateauLaLoubiere06LeGrandChaiMedoc07JeanPierreMoueix08VieuxChateauGibeau09LeGrandChaiMontagne10DomaineMartinRasteau11LePrincedeCourthezon12GrandeReservedeGassacRouge