WHAT IS CHAMPAGNE?
- Champagne is a type of sparkling wine produced in a region of France called Champagne. The unique climate and soil in this region, along with hundreds of years of wine-making experience, make the wine produced here truly unique.
- The method for making champagne is Méthode Champenoise (The Champagne Method).
- Only three grapes are used in making Champagne. One white grape (Chardonnay) and two black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier)
For a sparkling wine to be a true Champagne, all of the above must be true.
Non-Vintage - These Champagnes are produced from combinations of wines from different years, or vintages. A more accurate description may be Multi-Vintage.
Vintage - These are produced only from wines of a particular year. Vintage Champagne is generally only produced in exceptional growing years.
Prestige Cuvee - This is the Champagne House's finest product. A prestige cuvee is usually made from higher quality grapes and is aged for longer. A prestige cuvee can be vintage or non-vintage.
Rose - This type of Champagne is produced by adding a little red wine into the mix during fermentation. The effect is to give the Champagne a pink or orange hue. Rose Champagnes tend to be priced a little higher due to the extra man-hours spent in its production.
Blanc de Blancs - Blanc de Blancs (literally 'white from white') is a Champagne produced solely from Chardonnay grapes. These Champagnes tend to age very well and are ideal for storage in a wine cellar.
Blanc de Noirs - Blanc de Noirs ('white from black') is a Champagne produced only from black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). These champagnes are rare and often expensive. Creating a white sparkling wine from black grapes is a complicated process.
Brut/Sec - These terms, and their variations, refer to the sweetness of the Champagne. Brut champagnes are the driest (least sweet), whilst Sec are the sweetest. Sweeter Champagnes should usually be paired with desserts, while Brut Champagnes make great aperitifs and meal accompaniments.
For long-term storage, Champagne should be stored in cool, humid conditions, such as those in a wine cellar. If possible you should store the bottles horizontally to keep the cork moist.
When storing for the short-term, a fridge is fine. The main thing to remember is to keep your Champagne away form heat and sunlight!