TOP 10 CHAMPAGNE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Certainly not! Vintage and grower differences aside, there are several different styles of Champagne. Some wines are a single grape variety, while others are a blend between Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Besides traditional Champagne, one also finds rosé Champagnes. These tend to be fruitier, with soft aromas of strawberries - simply delicious. Finally, one may notice that bottles often bear the designation ‘Brut’, indicating that a wine is dry. This may sometimes be replaced with ‘Extra Brut’ or ‘Brut Nature’, meaning that the variety is even drier. On the other hand ‘Demi-Sec’ and ‘Sec’ indicate that the Champagne is semi-sweet or sweet. These wines make for the perfect pairing with spicy food, or for a delicious dessert.
2. WHY DOES SOME CHAMPAGNE SHOW THE VINTAGE WHILE SOME DOES NOT?
A non-vintage Champagne is made from a blend of wine that comes from different years. The advantage is that the winemaker can ensure, through blending, that taste and aroma are consistent through the years. Blending allows each Champagne house to develop their own style - some might even call it a "mood".
The grapes for a vintage Champagne, on the other hand, come only from one year’s harvest. As such, Champagne can only be made during good years, and as no other wines can be blended in, each vintage develops a unique profile.
3. HOW SHOULD I STORE MY CHAMPAGNE?
Champagne is stored the same as any other wine. The most important factors to consider for storage are light and temperature. Make sure that the wine is kept in a cool, slightly humid place, and always away from bright light. If possible lay the bottle down horizontally - this helps to keep the cork moist and prevents it from drying out and turning brittle.
4. HOW LONG CAN I KEEP AN OPEN BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE AT HOME?
Hopefully you never have to encounter the dilemma of an unifinished bottle of Champagne. If the unithinkable occurs, however, then make sure that you promptly seal the bottle with a Champagne stopper. Store it in the refrigerator and it should last between 3 and 5 days before going flat.
5. DOES CHAMPAGNE GO WELL WITH FOOD?
Yes! Think of Champagne as your all-day wine companion. If you haven’t had a Champagne breakfast yet, then it is time you do. Complement a delicious breakfast of Eggs Benedict with a sparkling glass of Champagne. If you like sushi, but sake isn't for you, then Champagne is a perfect alternative. One can't forget the legendary pairing of Champagne and Oysters Rockefeller. Champagne is versatile and exciting, and as with any other wine, you should always feel free to experiment a little. You will be surprised at how many unexpected wine and food pairings there are to discover. Try a favorite of ours: a vintage Champagne with grilled chicken - simple and unforgettable.
6. I DON’T HAVE ANY CHAMPAGNE FLUTES AT HOME, WHAT DO I DO?
First of all, don't worry. Who needs flutes when you can unleash your inner Champagne Mood party animal and drink straight from the bottle? Alright, don't do that but, keep in mind, that while Champagne flutes are an obvious and beautiful way to present Champagne, they aren't essential. Champagne flutes showcase the fine bubbles better than any other glass, and preserve them better as well. However, many sommeliers and Champagne houses prefer using wider glasses for their Champagne. If you are a casual drinker, a regular white wine glass or wide burgundy glass will do just fine. Remember, at the end of the day Champagne is a wine.
7. WHAT DOES ‘GROWER CHAMPAGNE’ MEAN?
Most of the Champagne one finds is made by a larger ‘Champagne house’, which produces hundreds of thousands, or sometimes even millions of bottles annually. Often, these so-called ‘Grandes Marques’ are of very good quality, but just not as personal as the 'grower Champagnes' that we sell. A grower Champagne is one that the grape growers both make and sell. Quantities are much smaller, the grapes are often picked by hand, and it is easier to find out exactly how and where the wines were made. At Champagne Mood, we have decided to focus on offering smaller batch, high quality grower Champagnes with the great reputations that come along with them.
8. HOW DO I OPEN A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE?
First, loosen the cage by untwisting the wire. Remember to point the bottle away from people and yourself (most people do not want to experience the force of a Champagne cork to the eye). Next, hold the bottle at a 45° angle and begin rotating the base of the bottle while holding the cork and cage firmly until the pressure of the wine begins to push the cork out. When you hear the "plop!" and you make sure that you haven't broken any windows or light fixtures, you are ready to enjoy.
9. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHAMPAGNE AND OTHER SPARKLING WINE LIKE PROSECCO OR CAVA?
The short answer is that for a wine to be called Champagne, it has to come from the Champagne region of France. In addition, the only grapes that are allowed during production of the wine are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier (both red grape varieties), and Chardonnay (a white variety). Most Champagnes are a blend of all three grapes. However, a few special varieties exist:
‘Blanc de Blancs’ on the label indicates that the wine is made entirely from Chardonnay. ‘Blanc de Noir’, on the other hand, means that the wine is made entirely from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or a blend of the two.
Finally, Champagne is always produced using what's called the Méthode Champenoise. In this method, more yeast and sugar are added to the bottled wine, which leads to a second fermentation. The yeast slowly dries, forming a sediment called lees, which the wine rests on. This is where a Champagne develops its typical aromas of brioche and biscuit, while still having hints of lemon, apple or strawberry. Over time, the bottle is methodically tipped and spun, so that the lees are collected at the bottle neck. Finally, the bottle is flash-frozen and the lees are popped out. The wine is sealed and ready to be aged. Soon, it will be enjoyed.
10. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO DRINK CHAMPAGNE?
A bottle of Champagne served between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius is perfect for any special occasion. We often find ourselves with an open bottle on Christmas, when we celebrate the New Year, or when we are with friends and family. In fact, when the Champagne MOOD strikes, any occasion can become special.