12/29/09

Champagne Fast Facts

It’s Champagne time again, otherwise known as New Year’s Eve.

Actually, for a certain percentage of the populace, it’s Champagne time all year round…

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that..!)

Now that I have your bubbly attention, why don’t we go over a few fun tidbits of information regarding this splendid beverage?

Let’s start with the most important and possibly most overlooked fact. All Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagne. In other words, it must be produced in the Champagne region of France to in fact be Champagne. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a reflection of quality, as there are some excellent sparkling wines made elsewhere, a few American varieties that I mention in this article.

Now that you have purchased that bottle of bubbly, how should you store it? The simplest way to approach this would be to treat it similar to wine. Wine experts prefer a temperature in the 55° to 59° range which would work fine. Some champagne houses do prefer the lower end of that range stating an ideal of 54° to 57°.

With that bottle tucked away safely in the proper cellar, how long can it be stored? This brings up yet another question…is it a vintage or non-vintage Champagne? A vintage Champagne is made from grapes grown in a single harvest and can display that year on the label, while non-vintage Champagnes contain grapes from multiple years. Non-vintage bubbly is made to be consumed immediately, but will last 2 to 3 years without issue. Vintage Champagnes are built more for aging and can go anywhere from 10 to 25 years depending on the style of that particular vintage.

When it’s time to drink the Champagne, at what temperature should it be poured? The rule of thumb here is that if it is a vintage bottle, pour it at the temperature at which it has been stored – that 54° to 57° range. For non-vintage bottles, a bit more chill on the bottle works nicely, around 45° give or take a bit.

That is all for today’s crash course, but there will be more to come… Now, go and open that bottle and enjoy! Cheers and Happy New Year..!

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