Poppin' Bottles: A Brief Rundown of Champagne.

Que the cliche sayings from Pop Culture that have mentioned Champagne.....

'Ok, we poppin Champagne like we won a cham-pi-on-ship game' --Lil Wayne
'It's Champagne wishes, and caviar dreams' -- Robin Leach
'I only drink Champagne on two occasions: When I am alone and when I am not'. -- Coco Chanel

Cleary, champagne is synonymous with status, opulence, empowerment, and celebration.  N.Y.E is the most popular time of year for people to splurge on Champagne, or ....at least what they may think is Champagne.  Here are 7 interesting facts that make drinking Champagne that much more glamorous.  7 facts that will have you speaking "Fancy Bubble Talk" like a Boss! (what pinky finger???).

  1. "Vintage Champagne" is only released in stellar years. Grab a bottle of Vintage Champagne, and take in the history of that particular year.  The savy wine professional can taste such details like the climate of that particular year just from tasting. 
  2. Champagne can only (legally) be produced in Champagne, France where the wine gets its namesake.  Easy phrase to remember: All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.
  3. Piggy backing off the legalities of the above statement, Champagne can only be made using the following three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and (Pinot) Meunier.  Nearly, 66% of the grapes used to make Champagne are red, but most Champagnes are white (Blanc). This comes from hand harvesting, and a delicate pressing process when extracting the juice. This prevents less color being imparted into the juice.
  4. The preferred Brut (dry) style of Champagne is only a recent fad.  Pre WWI, the Russians were the primary consumers of Champagne, and they preferred a sweeter style of bubbles.  After the Bolshevik Revolution, Russia was a bit drained of money, so, Champagne sought out new cliental to clink their glasses with. They landed in the hands of the Brits who preferred the dry style as what we know today.
  5. The Champagne region has been deeply impacted by both World Wars.  It was ravaged by Trench Warfare during both WWI and WWII; trenches were dug right through various vineyards destroying them entirely.  During WWII, Nazi's were said to have pillaged various prestigious Champagne house in the villages of Epernay and Reims, taking thousands of bottles of Champagne along with them. Throughout all of this, Champagne still managed to produced what wine they could. 
  6. Champagne is made in the Champanoise or Traditional method
    1. Primary Fermentation: Where base wine is produce.  Producers will set aside only the best cuvee from each grape varietal, and from each village.
    2. Blending: Most Champagne houses for their "House Style" Champagne, use a specific blend of base wines that will ultimately lead to the finished product. This allows for consistency, and a signature taste for a particular winery.  Example: Taittinger la Francaise.
    3. Secondary Fermentation: Where the Liqueur de triage is added (sugar, yeast, clarifying agent, and yeast nutrients).  The bottle is then closed with a crown cap.
    4. Yeast Autolysis: Once the yeast die in Secondary Fermentation, sediment is produced in the wine. The dead yeast/sediment is what gives flavor to the wine (bread, biscuit flavors).
    5. Riddling: Once the bottles are sealed with the crown cap, they are stacked horizontally in the cellar.  Riddling is the process of slightly turning EVERY. SINGLE. BOTTLE individually, slowly from a horizontal angle to eventually a vertical angle. Riddling during the maturation process can take weeks. 
    6. Discourgement & Corking: Inverting the bottle form horizontal to vertical, allows the sediment to collect at the neck of the bottle. Once completely inverted, wines are submerged in a very cold brine liquid which freezes that sediment. Once frozen, crown cap is removed, pressure pushes out sediment. Wine is then topped off with the Liqueur d'expedition or Dosage (wine & cane sugar). Wine is then enclosed with cork and cage.
  7. Champagne shouldn't be served in a flute.....Now, don't go smashing all of your flute glasses. The design of a flute does not allow for enough air to incorporate with the wine for that brief moment to allow the molecular structure of the wine to open up.  In other words: I'm not saying that you need to be able to swirl your glass vigorously about like a nice Cab, but the same concept applies. Try instead a Large, Rimmed Flute glass, a Tulip, or a coup.

**Bonus** Suggested Grabs in no order (Ok...Kind of in order):

  • Bolliger
  • Gosset (Rose)
  • Taittinger
  • Krug
  • Pretty Much any Grower Champagne
  • Vintage Champagne 

 

If you don't sound like the smartest person at the NYE party then....idk....try harder. JK.

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!

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