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.
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.
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.
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.