The icon of a celebration, Champagne is a wine region in France going wayyyy back centuries, with Barbe-Nicole or "Widow Clicquot" shepherding Champagne to the limelight in the 20th Century. The woman behind Veuve Clicquot in the 19th century, she was the businesswoman who brought her company from the brink of extinction & creating the moden champagne market
What makes Champagne unique is the method they created, often called the traditional method. The juice is bottled and left to age on lees. The bottles are then riddied and put upside down, to let the sediment gather. Afterwhich, it is either degorged by hand, or frozen and removed mechanically. A sweet mixture of yeast, wine, and sugar is then readded to at the end of the second fermentation. This is essential as otherwise the wine is wayyyy too acidic
Sweetness to balance out the acidity is created or managed totally differently from other wines. It's not about stopping fermentation, but about how much of the dosage is added. Usually, most Champagnes are brut level of sweetness, which is in the middle of the spectrum
When choosing a Champagne, other than the Cru classification, there's really 2 things to look out for; Ageing & Style
There are 4 different styles of Champagne; Other than the standard which is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier, there is also
- Blance de Blancs is a 100% Chardonnay variant, with more lemon & apple-like notes.
- Blanc de Noirs is made with 100% red grapes, usually Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, giving more strawberry & white raspberry notes
- Rose is usually made by blending blanc Chamagne with a little Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, giving the wines a tart, acidic red fruit profile
There is also aged vintages & non-vintages; The longer Champagne is aged, the more it develops bready, tasty & nutty aromas. Non-vintages are aged for a minimum of 15 months, and are fruitier. Vintages are aged for a minimum of 3 years and typically have a creamy or yeasty style.
Fun fact: Try pairing a Champagne with French fries. It will blow your mind. The acidity in the Champagne will cut the fat from the french fries, making an amazing pairing, which works with other fried foods