Published 27. Dec. 2016

Five Myths about Champagne – Debunked

What better way to celebrate the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new one? Here are five things about the world’s favourite bubbly that you thought you knew, but didn’t.
Retail and Consumer

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Champagne should be served ice-cold

No, it shouldn’t, if you actually want to taste it. The proper temperature for enjoying young bubbly is between 8 to 10 degrees Centigrade (46 to 50 in Fahrenheit) and between 10 to 12 (50 to 54) for aged vintage stuff. The best way to chill Champagne is to stick the bottle in a cooler with some ice & water for about 20 minutes. Freezer works as well, but don’t forget the bottle there or it might explode.

A blind monk Dom Pérignon (1638-1715) invented champagne bubbles

While Pierre Pérignon (Dom is his monastic title) did contribute to various techniques in Champagne production as the cellar master of Hautvillers Abbey, the sparkling wine was not his invention. The birth of the sparkle in wine was due to accidental process of re-fermentation. Originally bubbles were considered a fault in wine – until they became fashionable.  It is actually likely that the good monk (who was not blind, by the way) used most of his career trying to get the bubbles out of his wine, not into it.

There are three grape varieties used in champagne

Yes, there are 3 main grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In addition to them there are 4 more grape varieties that are allowed: Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. It should be noted that there are – for historical reasons – only few hectares of the latter four remaining and planting more is not allowed. Most Champagne producers don’t have access to these old varieties and don’t really want to talk about them.

Champagne is expensive, because of the high production costs

When it comes to well-known Champagne brands, more money was probably spent in marketing than in the actual production. It is the image of luxury created by skilful branding – and subsequent high demand for Champagne that explains the price.

Champagne is always better than any other sparkling wine

Not really – there are many quality levels within Champagne – often suggested by the price. Good quality Cava from Spain, Franciacorta from Italy or top-of-the-line New World sparkling wine may well taste better than Champagne.  However, if you want to impress your guests, you might want to take note that while only few people have a discerning taste, most people can read…

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By Petteri Harjula