Get to know Champagne
What is it?
Champagne is a region of France that is most famous for producing high quality sparkling wines using the Champagne Method (Method Champagnoise). While both red and white wines are made here, they are overshadowed by their fizzy counterpart. For clarity, this article will focus just on the sparkling wines of the Champagne region.
Where is it grown?
Champagne can only officially be made in the Champagne region of France using the Method Champagnoise and using the three permitted grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The method involves a unique process that requires two fermentations and a period of bottle ageing.
What does it taste like?
Champagne is most notable for its lively bubbles (or mousse) and distinct yeast character from the two fermentations and length of ageing. This often manifests as aromas of biscuit, brioche or fresh baked bread. The wines will also have crisp green apple, citrus and pear notes. In addition to the flavours mentioned Champagne is also often described as having a creaminess on the mouthfeel.
What does it pair with?
Very often Champagne is drunk by itself as a celebration. However, it also pairs well with oysters, scallops or butternut squash ravioli. Although it may seem a contradiction, Champagne, due to its high acidity, pairs alarmingly well with foods such as fried chicken and mac and cheese.
Riddling is a technique that involves ageing the champagne on an angle to both maximise the yeast contact with the wine and to encourage the yeast to slide to the neck of the bottle where it can be removed. This technique was invented by Madame Veuve Clicquot who was one of the first and only females involved in early Champagne production. The technique is still widely used today and is responsible for a large amount of Champagne’s pastry character.