Posts Tagged ‘champagne’

How to enjoy Champagne wines

Monday, November 26th, 2012

How should I store Champagne?

Champagne wines should be kept in a cool, dark place away from heat, light, vibrations and severe temperature variations. Unlike the best wines from Bordeaux or California, Champagne wines are ready for consumption when they are shipped to the market. However, some wine lovers also enjoy cellaring their Champagnes for a few extra years.

What is the best way to chill Champagne?

Before opening, chill the wine well, but do not freeze it. Champagne is best chilled by placing the bottle in a bucket filled with ice and water for 30-40 minutes or in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator for several hours.
Lovers of (French) Champagne always keep a bottle there for inspiration, unexpected guests and homey dinners.

How do I open a bottle of Champagne?

The pressure in a bottle of Champagne is equivalent to that of a tire of a double-decker bus, about ninety pounds per square inch. Slant the bottle at a 45 degree angle away from guests. Put a thumb on the cork, untwist and loosen the wire muzzle. Grasp the cork firmly, twist the bottle slowly and let the pressure help push out the cork. Allow a light and merry pop.

How should I serve Champagne?

Drinking Champagne by the bottleChampagne is best served in tall flute or tulip glasses, at a temperature of 42-47 degrees Fahrenheit. Tiny bubbles will rise in a continuous stream. When serving, pour a small quantity of wine into each glass and allow it to settle. Then fill each glass two-thirds full. Victorian saucer-shaped glasses are best kept for the service of sherbet or ice cream.

How much Champagne will I need?

For a Champagne apéritif at cocktail hour, allow one bottle for every three or four guests. When served at a meal, count on one bottle for every two or three people. And for the traditional Champagne toast to the bride, one bottle can serve six to ten people.

Related articles: the regions that produce Champagne and the red grapes that go into Champagne.

The vine growing regions in Champagne, France

Monday, December 19th, 2011

The Climate

The Champagne region enjoys very favorable conditions for vine cultivation, even with it’s contradicting northerly location. The rivers and forests help to regulate the humidity. The winters are relatively mild, the summer and fall rich in sunshine and the sun’s rays reflect back on the vines from the chalky soil, permitting maximum heat and light.

The Soil

Champagne is planted on chalk. The Grand Crus generally are on the mid-slopes. The soil is a unique chalk a bit below the constantly fertilized topsoil. Thanks to this cradle, Champagne offers such lightness and refinement. The slopes facing South and Southeast attribute to the vines prosperity, protecting them from the Northerly winds and generously exposing them to the sun. The exceptionally intense light is reflected back by the soil expending the sun’s warmth.

The Areas

map of vine growing regions in Champagne, FranceAs the map indicates, the vine growing region in Champagne primary consists in 4 zones. The Reims Mountain, the valley of the Marne river, the Côte des Blancs, the Aube. The vineyards strive on hills stretching 120 kilometres in length and from 300 metres to two kilometres in width.

La Montagne de Reims

The Reims Mountain zone is part of the Ile-de-France region. It consists of the versant meridian of the Vesle River Valley and expands to the Valley of the Marne River at the highs of Epernay. This is a vast plateau 20-25 kilometers in length and varies from 6 to 10 kilometers in width.

La Vallée de la Marne

The Marne Valley zones incorporates the vineyards situated between the towns of Tours-sur-Marne amd Dormans, extending to the city of Chateau-Thierry — in other words into the Aisne and Seine-et-Marne regions.

La Côte des blancs

The zone of Côte des Blancs is named after the white Chardonnay grapes grown there almost exclusively. The hills face east. The cliffs are perpendicular with the Reims Mountain. It is lower in elevation and stretches about 20 kilometers from the North to the South, between Epernay and the Marne River. It extends to Cote des Vertus in the Congy region and the Cote deSezanne hills. South of this zone, in the Aube region is the Cote des Bars zone, close to the villages of Bar-sur-Seine and Bar-sur-Aube.


This part is rather not known. In 2007 Alice Feiring scouted the Montgueux part of it.

Here is about the expansion of the appellation area.

Champagne is bready from autolysis

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Or isn’t it?

In biology autolysis refers to the destruction of a cell through the action of its own enzymes. The term “autolyse” was coined by French baking professor Raymond Calvel. The term derives from the Greek words αυτό (“self”) and λύσις (“splitting”).

Mumm Brut rosé sparkling bubblesFor making sparkling wine, autolysis involves killing the yeast and encouraging the breakdown of the cells by enzymes. It is used to give different flavours.

Steve Goodwin is a sparkling winemaker at Seppelt, Australia. He was once interviewed on the cause of the bready, yeasty character found in champagne and other sparkling wine: “most of that is just bottle-developed pinot noir character (rather) than autolysis,” said Steve. His comment contradicts the traditionally accepted view that contact between the wines and autolyzed yeast lees – i.e. broken down yeast cells – is responsible. Curiously, a former Seppelt sparkling maker, Warren Randall, claimed that the bready character came mainly from pinot meunier.

In 2008 I asked French champagne maker Benoît Gouez (of Dom Perignon) about this. He had no doubt that autolysis causes the yeastiness in champagne, adding that autolysis is expressed quite differently by different grape varieties. “However, the more fruit in a particular wine the less yeast will be evident,” he explained.

Well-known amateur sparkling winemaker, MF (those five years spent as sous-remueur – translation: riddler – at Bolli were not wasted) reckons that the bready character does in fact come from yeast autolysis — rather than aged pinot noir or pinot meunier. His reasoning? Rising bread dough and bread just out of the oven have this smell. Where does it come from? Er, the breakdown of yeast cells after the bread has risen.

Pertinent questions: Has MF ever encountered this yeasty smell in bottles of still pinot noir or pinot meunier of any age? No, never.

Has MF ever encountered this yeast lees character in bottles of bubbly that do not contain either of the pinots, i.e. blanc de blancs made solely from chardonnay? Yes, your Judgeship, often.

If so-called yeast autolysis character comes mainly from pinot noir why do sparkling wine makers waste their time and money leaving fizz in contact with yeast sediment for years, when they could just as easily add more pinot noir to the brew? Beats me, your be-wigged Excellency.

The court will rise…

To help you make up your judgment, here are related articles – at other sites:

Wine Pairing Rule 4 – Sparkling & Dessert Wines

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

This film is part of a series of eight by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia. I have selected some material by other wine writers while I am too busy to write my own articles.


Neil Smith: Hi, my name is Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wine and food. Right now, we are going to talk about our fourth rule which is to not overlook sparkling and dessert wines when you are planning a menu and let’s start by talking about sparkling wines. Sparkling wines are usually reserved for one day which is New Year’s eve which is a shame because they are very food friendly wines and they are a great way to start a dinner party or any type of meal where you have guests waiting to be served or waiting for other guests to arrive. Sparkling wines, just by the very nature of do have a salivatory feel to them. So it is a great way to get your guest in the mood for a nice occasion, but it’s also a great way to get your mouth primed, if you will for more food and wine to follow.

So let’s give an example of how sparkling wine works very well with food and what we are going to use is a bottle of sparkling wine that we talked about in the intro as well as some salty food like popcorn or peanuts and I have chosen popcorn for this example. So let’s start by opening the bottle, I am pouring a small glass and then go ahead and taking a bite of popcorn or peanuts, whatever you have handy and then follow that with a sip of the wine. So pay attention to how they bubbles in the acidity in the wine help to clean your mouth up, wash away the saltiness and the butter and again, more importantly, it gets your mouth ready for another bite of food. So that’s enough about sparkling wines.

Let’s talk a little bit about dessert wines. Dessert wines are usually enough to be served on their own and when you are serving dessert wines with another type of dessert you want to make sure that the wine has enough sweetness to stand up to the sweetness in the dessert. So for example, chocolate is a very difficult item to pair with a dessert wine and one of the few dessert wines that work with chocolate is Port. Port also works very nicely with blue cheeses especially, Stilton and then for your other main category of dessert wines things like Late Harvest Rieslings for example, those are usually best served by themselves but can also work nicely with cheeses and simple fruits. So that’s our fourth rule for pairing wine and food and now we are going to talk about our fifth rule which is to experiment and practice often.