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How to Taste Champagne

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December 22, 2014 / French / By
Rachael

 

(Photo: Commons Wikipedia)

With special events and holidays throughout the year a glass of champagne is the ideal way to celebrate. Opening the bottle on New Year’s Eve or at a wedding is traditional but in France champagne is very much an aperitif. Here’s how to enjoy champagne whatever the occasion.

Champagne originates from the Champagne wine growing area of France. Most brands are made from a blend of grapes such as chardonnay or pinot noir. Champagne spends at least 15 months maturing in a production cellar once bottled.  Most of that time is concerned with the sediment formation from dead yeast cells which give their flavour to the wine on decomposing. Most vintage champagne mature for 3 years but some are matured for up to seven.

Ideally champagne should be chilled for 3-4 hours before drinking. If champagne is chilled for long periods of time the delicate flavours of the drink can be lost. It is best served at 8 degrees C. There’s a recommended way of opening the bottle too and contrary to popular belief it is not done as racing car drivers do. By holding the end of the bottle in one hand and the cork in the other, twist the bottle to release the pressure on the cork. This avoids spillage of the drink.

The best glasses to drink champagne in are tulip shaped glasses as they allow bubbles to form and rise. As it is sipped the aromas are also taken in by the drinker. Champagne glasses should only be cleaned with warm water and allowed to dry naturally as soap residue can damage bubble formation.

When you have that glass of champagne in your hand, take a moment to really appreciate it. Look at the colour and the brightness which varies from golden in older varieties to clear in younger champagnes. By swirling the glass gently you’ll get to experience the aromas by inhaling. Is it fruity or is there a more floral aroma? Get to sense the taste as you sip it and let It roll around your mouth. Depending on the type of champagne there could be a taste of vanilla, apples, or nuttiness as common themes. The aftertaste lingering on your palate is important to consider too and generally the longer the finish the better quality the champagne.

Champagne is a beautiful drink to be enjoyed whether celebrating Christmas or a birthday. Some people enjoy a glass every day and it is really popular to mark an occasion. You can also learn more about the taste of champagne from a master class in tasting wines and champagnes. Or you can visit the heart of the champagne producing region in France at Reims and see how this famous drink is produced. When you pop the cork on a bottle of champagne it really is time to celebrate.

 

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