Do serve Champagne in a wine glass.
You should serve Champagne like you would other wines, as flute won’t allow the wine to open up properly. A wine glass will help to release all the aromas. Champagne flutes are great for showing off the bubbles, but the tasting experience will be limited. Coupes, on the other hand, will release both the aroma and the bubbles way too fast.
But don’t chill your glasses in the fridge as this will end up diluting the Champagne. Chilling glasses in the fridge adds 0.5% water to your drink.
Don’t chill Champagne in the freezer.
Champagne should be served cold, but never from the freezer. If the wine gets too cold it will reduce the bubbles, and serving over-chilled Champagne won’t give your guests the pleasant tasting experience they are hoping for. When served ice cold, the aromas aren’t properly released.
Ideally, keep the Champagne in the fridge for around three hours before serving. Once opened, you can leave it out in a bucket filled with ice and water as this will still keep the wine chilled, but warming it up slowly will enhance the flavour.
If you are in a hurry, keep the bottle in a bucket with ice and water for at least half an hour and that might just chill it enough to be served once your guests arrive.
Do twist the bottle when opening it.
You want to open the bottle gently; the key is to have as little sound as possible when opening and to avoid the cork flying out. Hold the top of the cage to keep the cork in place and open the wire. Then twist the base of the bottle in a circular motion away from the cork.
Don’t fill a glass all at once.
Pour only a little bit at first to allow the foam to settle. When the foam has settled you can fill up the rest. When using a wine glass, only fill as you would with wine, never to the brim.
Do hold the glass by the stem.
Keep your hands off the bowl or you’ll warm up the Champagne too fast!
Do use a stopper.
You can store leftover Champagne for up to three days as long as you use a stopper to keep the bubbles in. It is also recommended to use the stopper between pours for the best quality.
Don’t let the storage temperature fluctuate.
Keep Champagne somewhere where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate from hot to cold as this will kill any wine. The ideal temperature is around 7°C to 11°C, but 15°C or below is also acceptable if stored for up to a year. Champagne will oxidise faster in temperatures around 18°C. Also avoid places with bright lighting.
Do limit the time Champagne is stored in the fridge.
Champagne can be stored standing up for a few weeks, but for long-term storage it should be kept on its side to avoid the cork drying out. It is okay to keep the bottle in the fridge for few days if you know it will be opened soon, but if you are planning on storing the bottle for a week or longer you are better off keeping it in a cool place, away from direct light and on its side.
The air in the fridge can dry out the cork, which will allow air to enter the bottle. This will change the taste of the Champagne and slowly release the bubbles.
Do check the label for sweetness.
When choosing the right Champagne to fit your preferred sweetness, check the following on the label:
Brut Nature (Bone Dry) 0–3 grams of residual sugar per litre
Extra Brut Less than 6g
Brut Less than 12g (most common)
Extra Sec (Extra Dry) 12-17g
Sec (Dry) 17-32g
Demi-sec (Medium Dry) 32-50g
Doux (Sweet) 50+ grams (rarely produced)
Do choose magnum bottles for better ageing.
For long-term ageing magnum bottles are better due to their larger surface area, which allows slower maturation. Magnums can be aged up to 30 years, while 75cl bottles can age 10 to 15 years when stored properly. I’m not sure about you, but I would find it hard to store Champagne for years. I just about managed to store a magnum for a year to share it on NYE! Although if I had a wine cellar…
Don’t just drink Champagne to celebrate.
Champagne is a wine like any other, and it can be served on any occasion. Serve it at dinner. Champagne pairs well with risotto or seafood, but don’t think you need to buy oysters every time you drink Champagne! Champagne loves salty and fatty foods, so mix it up and drink it with nachos, fish tacos, fried chicken, mac ’n’ cheese or Caesar salad.
Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial £42
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs £58
Bereche Brut Reserve NV £40
Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve £36
Taittinger Brut (If possible, try vintage) £30 (NV)
Lanson Rosé Label Brut £42
Do you have a favourite Champagne? How often do you drink it?
I buy a bottle of Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial every year for New Year’s Eve. Then I drink half of it alone (noone else around me likes it), and let it stay put somewhere until I either finish it with a late night snack, or someone pours it out.
For “everyday” drinking, I prefer the cheaper cavas. Prosecco isn’t for me, but oh, how i love cava. Freixenet Cordon Negro and Freixenet Carta Nevada Semi Seco are what I go to for sparkling wines on weekdays and weekends. Mostly because I can afford them. Alcohol is expensive in Norway …
There are some excellent Cavas available. In the UK I often prefer Cava over Prosecco. But luckily there is a lot of choice in Prosecco here in Italy.
Let’s not be a Champagne snob. It’s a beautiful drink, and served and treated as you suggest it is lovely. Rather than jump into the expensive ones, try something more wallet friendly. Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut will give any of these listed a run for their money, and only around £12. Also, try a Cava. Same grapes and process as Champagne, but made in Spain. Skip the Prosecco as it’s made on an industrial scale in stainless-steel vats.
When I’m in the UK I prefer Cava over Prosecco, but in Italy they do have some lovely Prosecco’s and other sparkling wines available. Need to check that Aldo option next time, thanks for the tip!