The Proper Way to Chill Champagne

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Getting the most flavor out of your favorite brut or doux champagne depends on more than picking your favorite vintage. How you choose to chill your champagne before serving can have a dramatic impact on the final taste.

Right Way to Chill Champagne 

There are essentially three ways that you can go about chilling champagne and preparing it ready for your guests.

Refrigerating 

The first way is through refrigerating your champagne for a few hours before guests arrive. Since the ideal temperature for chilling non-vintage champagne is between 40 and 50 degrees, placing your bottle in the fridge for approximately four hours should set you up perfectly.

Freezing 

Alternatively, though, you could put your champagne in the freezer for 20 minutes to achieve the same effect. You can get similar results by refrigerating your champagne for a few hours at a standard refrigerator temperature (40 degrees) or by placing your bottle in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Ice Bucket 

The third and final way that you might chill champagne before serving is through placing the bottle in a bucket of ice.

Fill an ice bucket half with ice and half with water, then chill your champagne for twenty five minutes. This is the preferred way of serving champagne in many restaurants, and definitely adds a classy touch to a New Year’s Day party.

Obviously, if you’re strapped for time, the ice bucket or freezer options are going to be more intrinsically appealing. The refrigeration option, though, allows you to dial in the exact temperature that you and your guests prefer.

Chilling Vintage Champagne 

Note that the above suggestions apply to non-vintage champagnes. For vintage champagnes you will want to follow a slightly different set of rules to bring out the natural richness.

As you probably already know, vintage champagnes are derived from select grapes in a single year’s selection.

Vintage champagnes like warmer temperatures – getting your vintage to approximately 50 degrees at serving time ensures that the taste and natural carbonation is retained.

Even 55 degrees wouldn’t necessarily be too warm a serving temperature for a vintage like Dom Perignon. Trust us, your guests will thank you for following these steps.

Heed These Storage Tips 

Maintaining the complex tastes and aromas of a vintage champagne – or a non-vintage, for that matter – depends on the right storage conditions.

A wider range of storage conditions can work here. Aim for between 45-60 degrees, but make sure that you’re storing champagne in a cool, dry place. Champagne is even pickier than many wines when it comes to light and temperature.

If you’ve ever wondered why champagne is often packaged in opaque, green bottles, it’s because the darker color makes the champagne more resistant to light (and degradation).

The bottom line is that both non-vintage and vintage champagnes taste best when stored in darker, cooler locations (e.g., a wine cellar). Also make sure that you serve your non-vintage champagnes at approximately 45 degrees and your vintage champagnes at between 50 and 55 degrees for best results.

How Champagne Flavors are Categorized?

how-champagne-flavors-are-categorized

Rumor has it that the Romans began cultivating what would later become champagne in France’s Champagne region starting around the fifth century.

Champagne: Past and Present 

Since the days of French kings receiving coronations over delicious champagne and the later innovations by the well-known Benedictine monk Dom Preignon, we’ve certainly come a long way.

Today everything from rose champagnes to prestige cuvees are happily uncorked and used to celebrate good times.

You may have also heard the terms “brut” or “demi-sec” tossed around – this simply refers to the sweetness and the amount of sugar added after secondary fermentation to the champagne itself.

Popular Types of Champagne 

To earn its namesake, all champagne must come from the champagne region of France and get its natural carbonation (“fizziness,” if you will) from a natural process known as secondary fermentation.

Black and White Grapes 

It’s more common for black grapes to be used in creating the cuvee upon which most champagnes are created.

Pinot meunier and the ever-popular pinot noir are two examples of black grape varieties that ultimately comprise some of the most crisp-tasting champagnes today.

Cuvees are also created from white grapes, however. In fact, one type alone, chardonnay, accounts for nearly half a million acres around the world.

Champagne aficionados still love the hints of citrus and smooth, buttery aftertaste of a good chardonnay.

Cuvee de Prestige 

Many producers separate their different offerings based on the vintage and quality of the cuvee as well as nuances of the grape-harvesting process.

For instance, a producer’s cuvee de prestige is that vineyard’s highest quality offering – this class includes Dom Perignon from Moet & Chandron as well as Cristal from Louis Roederer.

These champagnes are so well-received because the cuvees draw on the vineyards’ most vintage offerings.

Rose Champagne 

As the name implies, a rose champagne has the reddish appearance of roses – but why?

Rose champagnes are conversely known as pink champagnes; by whichever name, this kind of champagne gets its color and distinct taste through allowing the black grapes’ skin to soften in a process called the saignee method.

Sometimes a higher concentration of red wine is even added to rose champagne’s cuvee to guarantee the same color and gentler taste from one vintage to the next.

Blanc de Blancs 

In french “blanc” means white, so blanc de blancs translates to “white to white.” This refers to the fact that white chardonnay grapes are used for the cuvee or blanc de blancs.

Pol Roger’s blanc de blancs is especially well-regarded for its creaminess and ability to complement light dishes (e.g., cheese or nuts) or heavier entrees alike.

http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2014/03/the-best-blanc-de-blancs

Champagne’s Sweetness Scale 

An alternative way of looking at champagne is to categorize it based on sweetness, or how much sugar is added after the secondary fermentation process.

Smaller vineyards tend to produce champagnes that are very dry, and either termed extra brut or (more rarely) zero brut. Extra brut means that there’s less than six grams of sugar per liter in the final product whereas zero brut means that there’s less than three grams of sugar per liter.

Moving up in sweetness from the bruts, we have extra dry, sec and demi-sec champagnes. These denote champagnes that have between one dozen and four dozen grams of sugar per liter in the final champagne.

Finally, your doux champagne is going to be the sweetest of the bunch at 50 grams or more per liter. Tastes vary, but many people prefer the crisp, dry flavors nearer the bruts and extra dry part of the spectrum. Stick with what works for you, and enjoy!