“Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.”
Madame de Pompadour
Don’t make the puritanical mistake of depriving yourself of Champagne and keeping it only for special occasions; Mireille Guiliano says, the only drink you need to have on hand to serve unexpected guests is, of course, Champagne. This is without any doubt the most carefully tended, closely scrutinized, rigidly codified, gloriously famous, and, outrageously expensive wine in the world.
Uncork a bottle of champagne (don’t let it pop!) and you’ve created a wordless aura of celebration. No one drinks champagne because they are thirsty; there is usually always a special occasion to uncork that bottle. We drink Champagne for its special aura, it’s taste, the bubbles that tickle our noses and burst in our mouth, and, of course, to celebrate. But, please, remember life is too short to wait for a special occasion to indulge yourself with this mythical, sparkling wine.
- Yes, wine. Champagne is technically a wine. Sparkling wine is made all over the world, some of it is very good, but it is not champagne. There are two distinguishing characteristics that make it champagne: 1)Champagne is only champagne if it comes from the tightly defined, and tightly regulated, 81,600 acres of the Champagne region in eastern France. 2) Champagne, unlike wine, which is made from the grapes of a single vineyard, in a single year, bottled on the premises, is a blend. A blend from different varieties of grapes from different vineyards from previous years in varying microclimates. How do they do it?
- Champagne, probably to the embarrassment of the French, also has a true American root – no pun intended. There was a phylloxera epidemic in 1890-1910, and vines grated to American roots saved the French champagne vines. Yet, the vine is only one tiny element of a great bottle of champagne.
- To reach it’s perfection, Champagne is made from three grape varieties: pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay. And, in the same way that the “light” is different in Europe, which helps to create some of our civilizations finest art, there is the combination of soil, moisture, and sunshine – that cannot be duplicated in any other spot in the world.
- It is true, those bubbles in Champagne, made from carbon dioxide, do carry alcohol into the bloodstream faster.
- “Good champagne” has multiple bubble trains rising in lines from the sides of a poured glass. This is called the collerette, at the top of a filled flute. The bubbles not only tickle your nose, but also have a genuine scientific function to the enjoyment of champagne. This was studied and reported in Scientific American; Jan2003, Vol. 288 Issue 1, p80, 6p.
- Champagne has three times the gas content of beer, emitting up to about 30 bubbles per second, whereas beer produces about 10 bubbles per second.
- Soon after emerging at the surface, the flavor-carrying gas capsule (Champagne bubble) collapses on itself and shoots a bit of the wine into the air, enhancing the champagne’s smell and experience. These drops shoot several meters per second up to a few centimeters above the surface, where they come in contact with human sense organs, specifically the pain receptors in the nose, along with touch receptors in the mouth when bubbles burst over the tongue. Obviously, the release of these bubbles creates the exquisite release of the flavors and aromas we know as champagne. This is what champagne merchants call “feel”.
- A loud pop wastes bubbles. As the saying goes, “The ear’s gain is the palate’s loss.” Open the bottle carefully.
- Use crystal glasses, but not the wide coupe many associate with champagne. It has to be a tall, narrow flute that confines the bubbles and focuses the aroma.
- Resist the temptation to drink it immediately when served. After a few minutes of aeration, champagne develops a fuller, more complete aroma and taste.
- The demand for Rose Champagne (pink), grew 3% in 2006, primarily used for general occasions such as an aperitif or with food.
- Champagne is ready to be drunk when bought. It is at its peak and will not improve with further aging.
- Because Champagne can only be made from a particular land in the world, there is only a finite amount of Champagne that can be made in the world. Savor every drop.