According to experts in Champagne, France
For centuries the drink of French royalty, champagne has boomed and is drunk today by virtually everybody in the world. We’re drinking more bubbles than ever, in fact, no matter the variety. That includes Brut, Cava, Prosecco, sparkling wine, and of course, champagne, which has the highest regard of them all in the realm of luxury and celebration. Bubbles can only be called champagne if they are harvested and produced exclusively in the Champagne region of northeast France. So, with that in mind, who better than to outline the best ways to drink it than the people of Champagne? Vogue speaks to industry experts to gather seven golden rules for the perfect sip.
Chill the bottle for 15-20 minutes
First things first, the prep. Avoid putting Champagne in the fridge right before serving, but rather, a bucket with ice and one-third water should do the trick around 20 minutes before. Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa’s Chief Sommelier, Philippe Marques, says “Depending on the style of the Champagne and your surroundings, the best temperature to enjoy it is between 7°C up to 14°C.” This is when you’ll be able to taste the flavors and distinguish its complexity.
Ditch the flute for a coupe or a wine glass
Though traditional Champagne flutes well showcase streams of bubbles, their narrow shape restricts a full experience of aromas and flavors. Select a wine glass with a larger bowl to better open the disperse. “My general rule is big wine equals big glass. We use a mix of white wine glasses and specially created larger glasses to showcase our Champagne,” says Philippe.
Pour it slowly and steadily at 45 degrees
“Champagne, like any quality wine, should be served gently, and with respect,” affirms Philippe, so go easy on the pour, taking care not to stop and not to fill too high so as to allow bubbles to diffuse at their own pace. Whilst many suggest pouring at a 45-degree angle, Philippe says that “if you have the right glass, it doesn’t really matter.”
Hold the stem, never the glass
Hold your glass by the stem, not by the bowl. “If you hold it by the leg, that means you won’t warm up the Champagne with your hands, and the temperature will remain constant,” says Jérôme Lafouge, of world-renowned family Champagne house, Maison Billecart-Salmon. The same practice goes for wine.
Drink it as an aperitif, but also with your meals
Champagne is most often drunk solo but did you know that it pairs just as delightfully with a starter, main, and dessert? “It’s the most versatile wine for food pairings,” continues Jérôme, “Seafood especially, but just about anything salty and/or fatty works too.” Oysters and caviar are obvious partners with bubbles, but even casual foods like truffle fries and fried chicken are enjoyed in tandem by the experts.
Savor every sip
With Champagne, take your time. First, inhale the aromas, observe the colors, and sip slowly, melting the bubbles on your tongue before the swallow. “Try not to shake the glass while drinking, in order to keep some of the effervescence,” says Jérôme. One thing that irks sommeliers across Champagne is the quick speed at which visitors down champagne, across multiple varies. “Time should be taken especially when switching between bottles,” he concludes.
Finish the bottle as soon as you can
It’s all in the bubbles, and following uncork experts recommend finishing the bottle as soon as possible for optimum freshness. “If you have more than half a bottle left with a good stopper, two or three days might be fine. If you have less than half the bottle, then just overnight,” says Jérôme. “This is when you’ll want to keep it in the fridge,” weighs in Philippe, “but remember to leave time for the temperature to settle before drinking, you don’t want it too cold.”
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