Enjoying your bubbly
Some of the best things in life have come from pure accidents. Champagne, the king of wines, was an incident of environments that has revolutionised how we celebrate.
Sparkling wine was the result of an attempt to produce wines that could compete with the Burgundy region. As winter turned to spring, the wines stored in cellars began to ferment, resulting in a fizzy wine that horrified the French, but interested the British.
The quality of Champagne’s wine was enhanced by Dom Pierre Pérignon, who developed the abbey’s production and refined how pinot noirs were made into white wine, in the process changing how champagnes are made.
THE CHAMPAGNE CHEAT SHEET
While wines are usually clearly defined, champagne is usually a blend of different grapes and the regions it comes from has an impact on its style. That’s in addition to the other varieties of bubbly, such as prosecco.
VINTAGE Most sparkling wines are also non-vintage as they are a blend of vintages. Champagne bottles bearing a vintage year have at least 85 per cent from the said year. The more renowned prestige cuveés are blends that are associated with excellent wine production years, such as G.H. Mumm’s René Lalou, Perrier-jouët’s Belle Epoque or Dom Pérignon, named for the monk.
VARIETIES Sparkling wines don’t follow the same rules of production as champagne, and come in various grape varieties. Champagne is made from seven specific varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier, pinot gris, pinot blanc, arbane and petit meslier. Rosés are a blend of the first three, while blanc de blancs are 100 per cent chardonnay and blanc de noirs are made from pinot noir, pinot meunier or a blend of both.
STYLE Sweetness is the common denominator. The sugar dosage determines if the champagne is classified as brut zero, extra brut, brut, extra dry, sec, demi-sec and doux. The first being the least sweet.
IT’S A WINE Donʼt go tossing back a glass of champagne. It is a wine by nature, which has undergone a second round of fermentation. The terroir and style of the maison are evident in champagne, so the right thing to do is pouring it into a wineglass and appreciating it accordingly.