Champagne is great for any celebration. It’s traditional to serve it at many occasions. When you are planning your next get-together, impress your guests with your fine champagne, served just right!
How to chill Champagne
In a Champagne bucket: a bottle from your cellar plunged into a mixture of water and ice should reach the right temperature in 15 to 20 minutes.
In the refrigerator: lie the bottle down on the bottom shelf for three or four hours before serving; you can leave it there even longer, provided that the temperature remains constant; this way you will always have a ready chilled bottle to hand.
The right temperature
Champagne is best drunk chilled but never iced. The younger and livelier the Champagne, the cooler it should be served (8ºC). A mature or vintage Champagne will be perfect at 10ºC. Over-chilling will mean that the wine is too cold to release its aromas and flavours
The shape and state of the cork, just like the gentle hiss or resounding pop upon opening, gives us an indication of how long the wine has spent in the bottle, and how long it has spent sitting on the shelf.
If the cork splays out at the bottom (a) it means that the bottle is fresh and the cork still wishes to find its original shape. If the cork tapers in at the bottom (b) it means that the bottle is old, you will only hear a gentle sigh as the cork is popped.
To fully appreciate a Champagne wine you must give it the glass it deserves. Its volume and height must be enough to allow the bubbles the space to form and rise to the surface, whilst allowing the temperature to remain as constant as possible.
The ideal shape is that of a tulip, the Champagne saucer is one to avoid as the aromas and bubbles have too much space and are soon lost into the air.
The thickness of the glass also has a role to play, especially on the lips where its finesse heightens our sense of taste.
How to wash the glass?
Rinse the glasses in hot water without any trace of washing-up liquid, let them drain until dry, then store them upright sheltered from dust. The residues of washing-up liquid can inhibit the formation of the bubbles.
Pour the Champagne so that the glasses are only half full.
Don’t forget to look at the colour, admire the different shades of gold or pink. Watch the bubbles dancing – light, lively, generous, …
Then inhale its bouquet, slowly and at length, and then start again. Do you recognize aromas of fruits or flowers, or richer smells like hot rolls, vanilla, spices?
Finally, taste the wine. Keep it in your mouth for a few seconds. Start again. You will not only find the aromas you have identified with your nose but you will also uncover the true nature of your Champagne: smooth or full-bodied, delicate or complex.