We help you understand the venerable sparkling wine from France.
The Champagne province made still wines until the 18th century, when Dom Perignon revolutionized the
process to produce the present-day sparkling wine known as Champagne (a little production of red, white
and rose non-sparkling wines is still made).
When it comes to rules, the wine makers of this area set their own. A Champagne bottle is the
of grapes brought from the villages surrounding the main two cities Reims and Epernay.
It is a blend of
different wines from different years; furthermore, pink Champagne could be the result of red and white
wines mixed together.
Yet the result of these irregularities in winemaking is the divine wine that no
happy occasion is accomplished without.
The main two grapes used are the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, and Champagne can be made from each
separately or both together.
The Blanc de Blanc Champagne (white from white) is a result of only white
grapes, usually the Chardonnay, and is considered the best.
The Blanc de Noir, made exclusively from the
Pinot Noir grapes, comes next and is followed by the Millesimes, which are the Champagnes made
exclusively of wine from an excellent year and carry that year on the bottle.
Then come the rest, which
are still of excellent quality, because no expense is spared in making Champagne.
Champagne can be Brut (very dry), Extra Sec or Extra Dry (dry), Sec (semi-sweet), or Demi Sec (sweet).
The Champagne region is part of the A.O.C. system, yet sometimes it is not mentioned on the bottle.
While Champagne is sometimes sold in larger containers like magnums (equivalent to two bottles),
jeroboams (four bottles), or even balthazars (sixteen bottles), and the biggest mabuchodonosor
(twenty bottles), it is best in the single bottle or magnum.
When sold in larger sizes, it is literally
taken out of the bottles and magnums and poured into the lager vessels. This operation may affect the
quality of the Champagne.
Champagne is ready to drink when it is released. It is unnecessary to age it.
Brut and Extra Dry Champagne are pleasant as aperitifs.
Sec and Demi Sec make fine accompaniments to
desserts and are usually drunk after dinner.
The famous French repas au Champagne suggests that
Champagne is equally good throughout the meal.