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Champagne 101

There’s nothing that says “party” like Champagne. After the invention of Methode Champenoise, or the Champagne method, it has developed into the world’s most prestigious sparkling wine. One of the first things you should be aware of about Champagne is that it must, by definition, be produced by the Champagne region of France. This means that the brands you love, such as Moet, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Perignon are all produced within the same region.

What is Champagne in 60 Seconds?

* Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are the three principal grape varieties used in the production of Champagne.

Champagne is made in a range of styles and sweet levels.

Methode Champenoise is the most traditional method that Champagne is made fizzy.

*The Champagne region lies in the northeast of France which is split into 5 regions of cultivation.
Champagne vs Sparkling Wine

The majority of Champagne has sparkling wines, however it is not possible for all sparkling wine to be classified as Champagne. Like Prosecco as well as Cava, Champagne has significant amounts of carbon dioxide which is why it is bubbly.

Champagne gets its bubbles from an additional fermentation process that occurs within the bottle. This is known by the name of Method Champenoise (or the “traditional method” outside of Champagne) and is considered to be the best method to create sparkling wine. The law requires that all Champagne must originate out of the Champagne region in northern France.

What is the reason why Champagne so expensive?

There are many reasons for why Champagne is sold at the highest average retail price than other styles or sparkling wines. The most obvious reason is the price of the grapes. The region’s chance of frost, and occasionally extreme weather conditions can affect yields, which then affects the price of grapes. The grapes should be picked by hand since the machine use is not permitted by the law. This can further increase the costs. Furthermore the method Champenoise second fermentation process is a requirement for thousands of hours manual work and years of ageing before the bottles are released.

How do I Open Champagne

Contrary to what we see in movies, champagne corks shouldn’t travel across the room with precious liquid spilling from on top. In order to properly open Champagne and to maintain there is pressure in the bottle that has to be handled with care.

First, take off the foil and take off your wire cage. Once you have done this, securely hold the cork with your hand to stop it from falling. By applying constant pressure, slowly rotate the bottle using your other hand while maintaining the cork still over the top. As you go, the pressure will be released and the cork will be released with a soft click.

Take a look at VinePair’s comprehensive Champagne guide for all you must know about everybody’s preferred sparkling wine, and several Champagne cocktails.

What is the taste of champagne?

Even though it’s produced in a range of sweet levels, the majority Champagne is dry and has high acidity. The flavors of citrus and green fruits are the most prominent, as well as the characteristics that result from aging on les (dead yeast cells) including brioche, and almond. Although the smooth effervescence of sparkling wine is not a surprise the Champagne typically has the most creamy mouthfeel and an elegant and fine mousse.

How Champagne is Made

There are several methods to make sparkling wine. Champagne’s sparkling wines are made using the process called Method Champenoise (or the “traditional method” outside of Champagne). This labor-intensive and time-consuming method is among the main reasons Champagne outdoes its competitors in terms of quality as well as prestige and cost.

Pressing Juice that comes from the primary press (cuvee) is considered to be of the most premium, whereas juice made from the second presses (taille) has more tannins and pigments.

First Fermentation: Similar to still wine, the sugars of the grape transform into alcohol through fermentation with yeast.

Blending: Many Champagne producers produce an unvintage house blend. Due to the harsh climate the blending of wines with grapes from various regions and from different vintages are crucial to maintaining the “house fashion.”

The second fermentation stage could take anywhere from eight to nine weeks to finish. Sugar, still wine and yeast are put in bottles with an open cap, and then kept horizontally. The yeast gradually converts the sugar into alcohol, and then produces carbon dioxide (aka”the bubblers) as a byproduct.

Lees Aging When the conversion process is complete the yeast cells that have died (lees) play a significant role in the wine’s maturing. Lees contact enhances the flavor of the sparkling wine. The process requires about 15 months for expression that is not vintage and three years for vintage wine.

Riddlingbottles are put on racks made of special materials that keep them at an angle of 45 degrees inverted. The bottles are rotated slowly and occasionally let the lees fall towards to the neck. The traditional method of riddling was carried out manually, and took many months. Nowadays, the majority of riddling is automated and can be done within just a few days.

Disgorgement and Dosage The cap on the crown is removed in order to facilitate the removal of dead yeast and the sediment (disgorgement). It is also important to keep the neck frozen during this process to facilitate the removal. The liquid that was lost is replaced with a mixture of sugar and still wine (dosage) that determines the final sweetness .

Recorking, Aging and the last wine corks and the cage are put on the bottle prior to the wine is aged inside the bottle. Non-vintage Champagnes must be aged inside the bottle over at least fifteen months (including 12 months on the lees) and the vintage Champagne has to be aged for at least 36 months before it is available to the market for sale.

It’s the Different Styles of Champagne

Champagne can be made in a variety of styles, based on the producer’s selection in grape variety. The most well-known type can be described as Brut Champagne, a non-vintage dry house blend that is made of the three most well-known Champagne kinds: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir as well as Pinot Meunier.

Rose Champagne can be produced by two methods using the saignee technique, in which the clear juice of red varieties is macerated with skins and results in a wine that is lightly colored and the d’assemblage method in which only a tiny amount of red wine is mixed into the white wine base that remains.

Blanc de Noirs Champagne is sparkling white wine made using the permitted black grapes. This process requires the least amount of contact between the grape must (grape must) and skins as is possible. Blanc de Blancs Champagne, is on the other hand is a white sparkling wine that is made using the permitted white grapes of the region.

The different levels of sweetness of Champagne

As if the process of making Champagne was not complicated enough, the different sweet levels, which are derived from what sugar content is used in the process of making the drink, are communicated with a distinct set of terms that are printed on labels. They include:

Brut Nature: Little or no sugar in the mix (less then 3g sugars per Liter).

Extra Brut: A little sweeter, but not as dry in the mouth (less than six grams sugar for each Liter).

Brut Champagne: The most well-known kind of Champagne is still considered to be fairly dry (less that 12 g of sugar for each Liter).

Extra Dry: A little less sweeter that Brut (between 13 and 17 grams of sugar in a Liter).

Sec: Notably sugary (between between 17 and 32g of sugar for each Liter).

Demi-Sec: sweeter than Sec (between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per Liter).

Doux: The most sweet level ( greater than 50g of sugar for each Liter).

Champagne’s climate and Wine Growing Areas

The Champagne region is situated in the northeast region of France approximately 100 miles to the east of Paris. The cool climate of the region makes it challenging for the grapes’ ripening process to take place However, this makes it the perfect place for grapes that have the highest levels of acidity which are ideal for the production of sparkling wines.

Of the five areas of growth, Cote de Sezanne and Cote des Blancs are the most productive, with a majority of Chardonnay. Cote des Bar and Montagne de Reims produce primarily Pinot Noir and the Valleee de Marne produces equally Pinot Noir as well as Pinot Meunier. The five areas comprise seventeen Grand Cru villages and 42 with Premiere Cru ranking.

How to pair Champagne with Food

Champagne as a drink is an incredible indulgence. If you’re planning to combine it in with food or dinner, you may be tempted to dive into a world of luxury. For an appetizer, drink Champagne with an indulgence of a soft French cheese such as the triple-cream brie baked with pecans toasted on top. For your main course, anything that is spicy or fried can balance the wine’s acidity perfectly. Try it with oysters fried or smoking salmon if you’re fan of seafood or crisp baked chicken or stuffed mushroom to have a truly enjoyable dining experience. If you’re looking for dessert, stay away from desserts that are too sweet because they’ll clash with the dryness of Champagne. If you prefer, mix like-with-like, and open the bottle Demi Sec or Doux bottle.