You don’t need to wait for a special occasion to drink Champagne – but you can add it to any occasion to make it special! And the great thing about Champagne is the flexibility it allows with food pairing. It’s one of the few drinks that can be served as an aperitif, accompany a main dish easily and is more-than-perfectly married with a delicious dessert. If you’ve no idea how to best serve Champagne, here is a guide.
Champagne is a sparkling white wine that legally needs to be produced in the French region of Champagne in order to be called ‘Champagne’. Primarily the grapes used to make it are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, but smaller amounts of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane and Petit Meslier are vinified as well.
As a general rule of thumb, experts advise that a vintage bottle of French bubbles should be served at 12 degrees celsius and a non-vintage bottle at 8 degrees. At this temperature the smell and taste of the wine can be fully appreciated. Young Champagnes are ideally served colder in a flute. More mature and intricate drops require aeration and are better served in a wider wine glass allowing it to breath. Best not to ice or chill the glass as this minimises the enjoyment of the wine. To achieve the required temperature you can place an unopened bottle in an ice bucket (half ice and half water) for 20 to 30 minutes. Or refrigerate it for 3 to 4 hours. Unfortunately the refrigerator temperature is too cold for the bottle to be left in there for extended periods.
Rather than popping the cork (and wasting precious bubbles) try releasing cork with a sigh. To ease the cork out to do this, hold the bottle away from you (and anyone else for that matter), at a 45 degree angle. It is advisable to place the mouth of the bottle closest to the first champagne glass to be filled just in case the removal of the cork doesn’t go to plan and the wine begins to gush out of the bottle. Hold the cork and gently turn the bottle in one direction. (Make sure to turn the bottle and not the cork).
For a long time Champagne lovers have been told to tilt the glass when pouring to minimise the foam. Others will say to hold the flute upright to increase the foam, serving twice when the champagne dissipates at two thirds of the way full after first pour. The best advice? It really comes down to preference. Before pouring, however, the neck should be wiped with a clean linen.
The correct way to hold a bottle of Champagne when pouring is to balance the base firmly in one hand with the thumb in the punt (the inverted dimple at the bottom of a bottle) and spread your fingers out along the barrel of the bottle. Once poured, any remaining champagne in the bottle should be placed back on ice until finished (in one sitting).
Once Champagne leaves the Champagne house, it has reached maturity and is ready for immediate consumption. However, it can be stored in cellar-like conditions for several years, although storage conditions need to be constant – a cool temperature and no light. Champagne should be stored horizontally to keep the cork moist and thus retain its elasticity, this will keep the gas in and the air out.
If you are new to the tastes of Champagne and don’t want to splash out a lot of money – try our Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Non Vintage 750ml– with a colour that displays a pale golden, this popular Champagne unveils floral fruits and a subtle predominance of pear, apple, almonds and hazelnuts. It’s perfect as an Aperitif and with Canapés.
Cheers, or as they say in Champagne …. à votre santé!