Drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve is a tradition that dates back more than 1,500 years. For many, it’s not New Year’s Eve without a glass of champers – and the 49 million bottles of champagne consumed during that evening stand as testimony.
France is home to many of the world’s most iconic wine regions. One of the most notable is undoubtedly Champagne. The cool-climate region located just east of Paris is best know for its bubbles.
Champagne is traditionally made with three types of grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The secondary fermentation happens in the bottle in cavernous underground spaces, giving the wine its tiny, luxurious bubbles.
Historically known as the spiritual capital of France, it was in Champagne where French kings were crowned – which was celebrated with wine. Given that most of the wine was made by monks, Champagne became associated with the upper class, royalty and celebrations. Notably, a monk by the name of Dom Perignon discovered how to make white wine from red grapes.
The other patron saint of champagnie is Madame (or veuve – French for widow) Clicquot. This rather clever woman developed the “riddling” process and was the first to adjust sweetness levels for preferences. These two people were influential to create what is now modern day Champagne – the region and the wine.
The bubbles in Champagne were an error, but as anyone who opens a bottle of bubbles can attest to: what a brilliant mistake!
> Most Champagnes are non-vintage (NV) wines, meaning that wine is blended from multiple years. If a bottle has a year stamp on it, you can be sure it is very special and that all the wine is from one single vintage.
> Blanc de Noir means white of black. This refers to the fact that the white wine has been made with 100% red grapes.
> Blanc de Blanc means white of white, meaning the wine is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes.
> The most common style of Champagne is known as ‘Brut,’ which means it has less that 12 Grams of sugar. Historically people preferred sweeter wines, and as the modern Champagne industry grew, the wine got drier.
> Champagne is usually served in a Champagne flute, but was first served in a wide, short wine glass, modelled after Marie Antoinette’s breast.
> Sabering a bottle of wine, or quickly removing the head of the Champagne bottle with a large sword, is done to dramatically open the bottle and evoke an emotion of celebration and excitement.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015!
Angela’s Top Picks for Champagne & Other Traditionally Made Sparklings
– Perriér Jouet
– Moët and Chandon
– Dom Pérignon
-Peller Estates Ice Cuveé (made with Icewine)
-Henry of Pelham Cuveé Catherine Rosé
-Chateau Des Charmes Cuveé brut