It’s that time of year for celebrating…the arrival of summer weather, graduations, weddings, babies, promotions…hmmm, what else can I conjure up? There is always a reason to enjoy the bubbly beyond monumental occasions! Just even the cool refreshing nature of it makes me want a glass on this hot day.
Champagne works on the soul. It brings a sense of grandeur, power, luxury, peace, love, happiness and satisfaction. Don’t you want to have these feelings more often?
Coco Chanel said it best…
"I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not"
If you’re enjoying the bubbly, knowing the facts can make it even more fulfilling as well as make you a better shopper when buying your next bottle. It will also make you a smarty pants with your friends.
Did you know this about Champagne? Here’s a basic primer and a few fun facts!
First, the laws in place – yes, law
A sparkling wine should only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France – so if you’re drinking a sparkler from California, Italy or Spain it’s illegal to call it Champagne. It can only be called “sparkling wine”
Champagne can only be made using Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes
The French have defined this class of wine. Nothing better, but there are some good sparkling wines out there from elsewhere in the world
Terms to look for on the label
Blanc de Blancs or white from whites are made from Chardonnay grapes only
Blanc de Noirs or white from black is made only from the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes
Cuvée refers to the best grape juice from gentle pressing of the grapes. Many Champagne producers pride themselves on only using the cuvée in their wine
Pink or rosé Champagnes involves the addition of a small amount of Pinot Noir still wine to the base wine or cuvée prior to the second fermentation to get the color
Sparkling wines and Champagnes are generally categorized as follows: extra brut, brut, extra dry, sec and demi sec. All of this depends on sugar levels. In wine terms, ‘dry’ is the opposite of sweet
Look at the size of the bubbles. The finer and thinner the bubbles are, the higher the quality of the Champagne
Bubbles are formed during a second fermentation process, because of the addition of sugar and yeast (either in a tank or in the bottle – more expensive)
The longer and slower the winemaking process, the more complex and expensive the Champagne or sparkling wine will be. Some sparkling wines are ten years in the making; others are produced in only a few months
Three quarters of all Champagne sold is designated as 'non-vintage'
Champagne from a single vintage is designated 'vintage', and is produced in lower quantities and only in the better years, so it is usually much higher quality
The right type of glass to enjoy Champagne out of the Tulip. Find out why here
Just like wine, there are specific food pairings with Champagne, ie Brut Champagne, is often paired well with ham or seafood while Rose Champagne goes best with duck
Some fun facts…
The pressure in a Champagne bottle is around 90 pounds per square inch
A Champagne cork can reach a velocity of about 40 miles per hour when popped out of the bottle. For safety and the proper way to chill and open Champagne click here
The Pol Roger Champagne house made a special pint bottle of Champagne for Winston Churchill, that was to be served to him each day at 11 AM
In a 750ml bottle of Champagne there are 49 million bubbles [I’d like to see that counted!]
On average 28,000 bottles of Champagne are served at Wimbledon each year
According to her biographer, Marilyn Monroe, at least once, took a bath in Champagne. 350 bottles of Champers were used to fill up her bath tub
Champagne is the only alcoholic beverage that you can drink in the morning with a grand breakfast and people won’t judge you!
Other common sparkling wines are Prosecco and Cava. What are they about?
Prosecco is Italy’s sparkling wine made from different grapes and tastes differently. Often described as green apples, citrus, flowers. Prosecco is fresh, light and comparatively simple as is the method of its production
Cava is Spain’s sparkling wine comparable to Prosecco’s light and fruitier flavor and produced in a similar fashion to Champagne with two fermentations. Produced in several levels of dryness: brut nature, brut (extra dry), sec (dry), semi sec (semi-dry), and dulce (sweet). It may either be white or rosé depending on the grapes used
But back to Champagne! We love pairing Champagne with chocolate but recognize that not everything goes. The perfect pairings we’ve found through our ChocoVin tasting events are our chocolate-covered salted caramels. The caramel cuts acidity and the salt accentuates many features of the Champagne. The salted caramel combined with a dark, toasty, nutty tasting chocolate also helps bring out different qualities of the Champagne. And it all depends on the specific pairing. If the Champagne has notes of lemon or citrus, our Lemon Trifecta has been superb, made with fresh lemons and a saffron sea salt in a 72% dark chocolate. If the Champagne has notes of honey, our Golden Sea Salt Caramel is perfect…creamy caramel with a Sicilian Trapani sea salt in a 72% dark chocolate (Cacao Venezeula). Want to know more? Join us for a Champagne and artisan chocolate tasting!
In sum, don’t wait for that special occasion. Enjoy the beauty of Champagne anytime!
Cheers! Salute! Skål! Santé! Prost! Cin Cin! Na zdrowie! 건배!
~Lisa Mecray Rogers, award-winning Master Chocolatier and Founder of Luxx Chocolat® xquisite artisan chocolate, ChocoVin Chocolate & Wine Tastings® and Luxx Academy du Chocolat offering classes with adults in mind, Ridgewood resident, recognized as one of 2014 and 2013 Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America. Luxx Chocolat offers unique handcrafted works of art. Nothing artificial, no preservatives, not mass produced.