Champagne in a Nutshell
I’m back! I haven’t updated this blog in a few weeks, I’ve been busy and running around, but here I am with a fun entry about my favorite wine on earth: Champagne!
One of the biggest mistakes that people who love Champagne commit is to not appreciate it and treat it like a WINE, leaving it only for celebratory occasions. Champagne is usually made with a blend of three grapes: Chardonay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. None of this info is on the label of a bottle of Champagne, so this is your chance to demystify champagne if you don’t already know it! The sweetness in Champagne is categorized by terminology created in the 19th century: “extra dry” which is for Champagne that is really sweet (almost nonexistent these days) and “brut” for a drier and less sugary version. Everything else (demi-sec, extra brut) is a newer terminology and not really used by the top negociants (correct name given to the growers and producers of Champagne in France).
Almost all of the bottles produced in Champagne, are excellent wines. However, among the most extraordinary ones I suggest to my clients--anything from Bollinger, Krug, Gosset, Louis Roedere and Pierre Gimonnet et Fils. It’s absolutely impossible to go wrong with any Champagne from these negociants.
As a general rule, in the U.S., a great nonvintage, basic bottle of Champagne can be sold for $35-$50. While not a bargain, the flavour of champagne is delicious, and is perfect for a fun dinner, a special occasion, or a chance to mingle with friends. A good time is all about the bubbly!
Champagne is very versatile, and goes well with so many foods, especially Asian (particularly sushi), pasta or risotto with creamy sauces as well as very simple combinations such as “Caccio e Peppe” or lemon and pepper sauces. I would suggest staying away from dishes with tomato or tomato sauces as acidity in both the tomato and the Champagne can work against each other in an unpleasant way. Fish and seafood, as well as hard cheeses: manchego, parmesan or gouda can be fabulous with Champagne!
Last but not least, what is the best way to serve your Champagne? The correct temperature for every bottle is about 45 F and it can be chilled in a bucket with one half ice and one half water for about thirty minutes. If you are going the refrigerator route, chill your bottle of champagne for three or four hours, but no more than that. To complete the whole experience, you want to serve the Champagne in a way that will enhance the flavor. Traditionally, we have all fallen for the flute. However, research indicates that Champagne is best experienced in a shape reminiscent of a regular wine glass that enhances bubbles, aroma and taste. You can try this for a change and use a tulip-shaped red wine glass to see if it makes a huge difference to you. It will be, at the very least, an adventure! Riedel makes the best wine glasses hands down, so if you can get them for your Champagne or your day-to-day wine consumption, please do, you’ll never regret and the difference in the taste is substantial!