Champagne 101July 17, 2012
What is Champagne? A sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. Singly or combination, uses Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes.
How to Buy: Brut: driest; Extra-dry: not as dry as brut; Sec: very slightly sweet; Demi-sec: sweetest.
How to Read the Label: Only genuine French Champagne uses Méthode Champenoise, in which the bubbles form in the bottle, allowed to ferment for 9 months to several years, then corked and shipped.
Choices: Non-Vintage, a blend of different years of grapes; Vintage, made from exceptional grapes from a single harvest, (only 2 or 3 a decade), and the most expensive. Rosé, either a red wine added to a blend or made from wine with red grape skins left in it for a period of time.
How to Use: Open corked bottles slowly to avoid spilling or flying cork, pour into tall flutes at an angle, similar to pouring beer, to maintain the bubbles and limit the amount of foam. The saucer-shaped coupe glass is a distant second choice. Serve chilled at 43 to 47 degrees.
How to Store: Store at 56-58 degrees.
Smarter Shopping: Sparkling wines, while delicious, are not true champagnes. They use the Charmat process where the wine is put into cold, large pressure sealed tanks, seeded with yeast and sugar, and allowed to ferment to cause the carbon dioxide bubbles. Filtering then removes sediment, sweetness is adjusted, then it is bottled.
Posted by Ken at 12:00 AM