Top 5 Fun Facts Every Champagne Enthusiast Should Know
1. There is Only One Champagne
Technically, there is more than one type of Champagne. However, this group of bubblies has one thing in common—they are all produced in France in a region fittingly called Champagne. In the past, copycat winemakers stole the title to add to their own sparkling wine's label and boost sales. Eventually, this practice became so rampant that most customers considered any wine with bubbles to be Champagne, no matter how cheap or bad tasting it was.
A recent law prevented the name from being abused and allowed the capital “C” term to be used only by French winemakers. Some American producers can use the word but must add “American” or their state's name before it.
2. Production Takes Years
Some manufacturing techniques can produce this wine within a few months, but the true technique takes 15 months to three years. Some of the best Champagne takes 10 years to make. It all depends on the liquid's second fermentation. At first, the grape juice ferments into a still wine—the type without bubbles. When the winemaker deems it ready, he or she awakens a second fermentation by adding sugars and yeasts. The latter flips the sugar into alcohol and also make the bubbles. The second fermentation is usually the longer one, starting anywhere from around a year or more after the bottle was placed in the cellar.
3. High-Quality Bubbles
Carbon dioxide forms during the second fermentation. Since the gas has nowhere to go, it turns into bubbles. Other sparkling wines are also created in a similar way to infuse them with their own natural bubbles. However, there is a distinction. A high-quality sparkling wine, like Champagne, must have delicate bubble streams that start at the bottom of the wine glass and fizz gently at a persistent pace. They also feel gentle on the tongue. Any sparkling wine that offers a bubble experience similar to that of a carbonated soft drink, with large orbs sticking to the side of the glass and ravages the mouth, likely didn't cost much.
4. Vintage and Non-Vintage
Most Champagne falls into the category of non-vintage. This simply means that the bottle's label doesn't carry a vintage year. As opposed to a vintage wine, which uses the grape harvest of a certain year, a non-vintage is a blend of three or four harvests. These harvests are not from a few farms but from nearly 40 villages. Although non-vintage can be superb, vintage Champagne remains the best on the market and the most sought-after.
It takes good weather to assure a vintage harvest, which doesn't happen every year. In fact, conditions are perfect only once every five or ten years. Besides rarity, vintage wines also take longer to make, which improves the flavor. A non-vintage must incubate for a minimum of 15 months, but a vintage Champagne is coddled for years.
5. Baby Champagnes
As a rule, it's not a good idea to store smaller bottles of Champagne for very long. They usually come in the shape of party favors or inside gift baskets. Unlike the larger bottles, these so-called baby Champagnes often fails at any measure of shelf life and go flat at a disappointing pace. That being said, the tiny wines are becoming increasingly popular where bubbly is ordered and consumed quickly. For instance, some nightclubs sell “splits”, 187 ml bottles that include straws so one can drink it almost like a bar cocktail.
Dig a Little Deeper
If these facts made you like your favorite fizzy even more, there's good news. There are plenty of historical, scientific and production facts that are as delicious as Champagne itself. A little research will soon reveal plenty of places, clubs and web site that offer great information on how to learn more about this superstar wine; from how to store and serve it to where the best tourist spots are for the travel bug who is also a Champagne aficionado.
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© 2019 Jana Louise Smit