Champagne is a vital component of many special occasions, such as anniversaries, retirement parties and weddings.
Champagne is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, though the term “champagne” is often mistakenly used in reference to any type of bubbly. Champagne is a wine and, like merlot or pinot grigio, it has specific storage and serving temperatures to ensure top flavor.
According to ThermoWorks, wines have specific layers of flavor that are most effectively enjoyed when they’re experienced at the proper temperature.
In wine, temperature affects alcohol, acid and aromatics. ThermoWorks suggests a temperature of 45 F for champagne.
In addition to controlling temperature, there are other ways to help ensure champagne reaches the palate in optimal fashion. Grape Escapes, a wine tasting and touring company, says that champagne is already aged properly before being sold, so it does not necessarily benefit from extra aging in the bottle.
When kept too long (beyond 10 years for vintage cuvées), some effervescence may be lost and the flavor will change.
Bottles of champagne should be stored horizontally in a well-chilled environment. They should be kept away from bright or artificial light. Chilling also will help reduce the “pop” and overflow of the bubbly. If you purchase champagne and need to chill it for serving, you can achieve this by either chilling it in the fridge for three hours before serving, or in a Champagne bucket in a mixture of ice and water for 30 minutes.
Etiquette experts say it is preferable to open a bottle of champagne with a hiss rather than a large pop. To achieve this, chill the champagne and also open the bottle very slowly and with a great deal of control.
When the champagne is opened, Daniel Brennan, PR and communications director at Champagne Laurent-Perrier, advises taking your time pouring a little champagne into each glass to allow the bubbles to settle. Then return to the first glass to pour more, helping to make the champagne less likely to froth. Do not tilt the glass like pouring a beer, rather pour the champagne gently down the inside of the glass.
The shape of the glass comes down to preference. Traditional coupes look the part, but tulip-shaped flutes will produce more bubbles and help capture the flavor and aromas of the champagne.
It’s ideal to drink all of the champagne in a bottle, as it will begin to lose its fizz immediately after opening, yet that isn’t always possible. A specialized champagne stopper will help keep the champagne fresh for up to two days after opening. Aftering the bottle has been opened, refrigerate it.
Do not wash champagne glasses in the dishwasher. Hand wash and allow to drip dry. Soap or fibers from towels can impede bubble formation in the glass during subsequent pourings.
Learning how to properly store and serve champagne can enhance special occasions.