Champagne is best enjoyed as an aperitif, perfect to drink prior to a meal. At Colonnades we agree with Madame Lily Bollinger and that there is no need to wait for a special occasion to enjoy Champagne. “I only drink champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.”
Read on to discover more about champagne varieties and our tips to enjoy your champagne.
All Champagnes are made with one or a blend of these three grapes; Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Find out how to read your champagne label.
Blanc de Blanc Literally meaning ‘white of white’; the Champagne is made using only Chardonnay Grapes which are of course white grapes.
Blanc de Noir Literally meaning ‘Black of Black’; the Champagne is made using only Pinot Noir and or Pinot Meunier grapes which are of course black grapes.
Brut Refers to the amount of sugar in Champagne. Brut would suggest that the Champagne is dry in style. This is the preferred style of Champagne that is consumed today. Much like a dry still wine, dry Champagne can have many different tasting notes from tropical fruits to almond and biscuit notes.
Demi–Sec This Champagne would again contain more sugar. Between 33-50 grams to be exact. Sec and Demi-sec are a great change from your traditional dessert wines.
Sec This style of champagne would contain more residual sugar than an Extra Dry Champagne. In this case you would expect the champagne to have 17-35grams of sugar compared to a Brut Champagne where you would have between 6-12 grams
Extra Brut Refers to the amount of sugar in the Champagne. Extra Brut would suggest that there is a very low level of residual sugar left in the bottle and certainly no sugar would be added.
Extra Dry This would suggest that the champagne would be an off dry meaning that there would be more residual sugar left in the champagne than a Brut Champagne would have.
NV (Non-Vintage) The Champagne will be made from a bend of still wines from different grapes and different years, much like a blended malt whisky, to create the signature taste of the champagne house.
Prestige Cuvee A blend of wines which are reputed to be the top still wines in a champagne producers range. The most famous of these prestige Cuvee’s are Dom Perignon, Krug, Pol Roger sir Winston Churchill and Laurent Perrier’s Grande siècle.
Rose Rose champagne can be made in two ways. You can either leave the juice of the grape in contact with the Black skin of the Pinot Noir grape for an Rose extended period of time or more commonly a small amount of a Pinot Noir still wine is added during blending. By adding the red wine this allows more control over colour and provides a more consistent result.
Vintage Meaning that a champagne is created using grapes only harvested from 1 year. Vintage champagnes are only created in exceptional years when the weather has been kind to the grapes and the still wines taste too good to blend.
There are many different types of glassware that can be used to drink Champagne. Tulip, flute and saucer being the most well-known and commonly used.
Tulip glasses are renowned to be the best for tasting, the tulip shape of the glass allows the wine to open up but the narrower top keeps the bubbles alive and the aromas of the Champagne to be channelled.
Flutes are probably the next best glassware to taste the wine as the shape allows the bubbles to form and disperse as well as channelling the aromas.
Saucers are certainly the most glamorous glassware for Champagne however the wide saucer shape allows the bubbles to disperse a little too quickly.
Make sure that the bottle is properly chilled as if it’s too warm the cork will come out too easily and the Champagne will fizz over.
Once chilled, remove the cage ensuring that you have your thumb or hand over the top of the uncaged cork.
Hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle and whilst holding the cork turn the bottle and not the cork.
When you feel the cork starting to release tilt the cork to the side slowly; listen out for the sigh of relief that the Champagne will be now enjoyed.
When pouring champagne to taste, less is more. Fill your glass half way up, this allows room for the aromas to develop and the bubbles to form and rise.
By holding your glass at an angle when pouring, this allows the Champagne to slip down the side of the glass and would leave more gas in the Champagne as it keeps the bubbles intact. By pouring the Champagne straight into the bottom of the glass will cause the Champagne to mousse up and will in turn disperse the bubbles more quickly.
The Look Take time to admire the colours and bubbles, a finer bubble would suggest a more aged Champagne and in turn the more mousse like the texture. Younger Champagnes are more likely to be anything from almost colourless to a very pale yellow with sometimes a slightly green tinge. Older champagnes are usually more straw like and has a golden hew.
Aroma Swirl the wine around the glass and inhale, to extract the most aromas, open your mouth slightly whilst inhaling, this allows the aroma to more fully open up. You can expect to smell a spectrum of aromas, from tropical fruit to vegetables to nuts and biscuits.
Taste Take a sip and allow the champagne to roll around your tongue. Don’t be afraid to be quite aggressive, professional wine tasters will do this as they would mouthwash. You can expect again a plethora of flavours; green apple, citrus, tropical fruits, vanilla, toast, nuttiness being just a few. Think about the viscosity and mouth feel of the champagne, light, buttery, creamy perhaps.
Finish The finish is how the Champagne taste lingers on your palette, how the Champagne coats your mouth. The longer it stays the better quality the Champagne.
Why not come and try our wonderful range of Pommery Champagne and champagne cocktails at the Colonnades? Book using the widget top right or call us on 0131 226 1064.
Colonnades is open Sunday – Friday 11am to 8pm. Last sitting for Afternoon tea from 8pm.