Now, we can say santé with confidence.
Champagnes have long been associated with the world’s grandest occasions, but the truth is – to the French’s dismay – many of us have been drinking it the wrong way. Case in point: storing your champagne in the fridge for months at a time or filling a champagne glass to the brim.
Thankfully, we caught up with Moët & Chandon’s wine quality manager, Marie-Christine Osselin (who is coincidentally French) on the do’s and don’ts of drinking champagne. Now, we can say santé with confidence.
One misconception is that you can store your champagnes for a long period of time. On this, Marie-Christine says, “When you buy a bottle of non-vintage champagne, you can keep it for not more than two years. After that, it may not be as fruity or enjoyable as it’s meant to be.”
To add to that, she advises against storing a bottle of champagne in the fridge for more than a few weeks. “The fridge is meant to chill your bottle for one day, two days or maybe a few weeks, but not for months. If you keep your champagne in the fridge for a long time, it will oxidise.” This can also cause your champagne to lose its fruity aroma and end up displaying notes of vinegar – a big boo boo.
“For a country such as Malaysia, I would say the best place to store your champagne for a long time is in an electrical cellar. You also have to store your champagne in a dark area because the UV rays from sunlight will oxidise your champagne.”
Another big no-no is drinking champagne warm. “Champagne is a wine that is really enjoyable at a certain temperature, so you have to chill your bottle fifteen minutes before drinking – don’t freeze it, just chill it to about 7 or 8 degrees in a bucket with a third of water and two thirds of ice cubes.”
Popping the bottle
It’s customary in some occasions to pop your champagne bottle and let the cork fly, but that’s not always the best idea in confined spaces, lest a guest ends up accidentally bruised. To prevent that, or to open the bottle like professionals do, keep one hand on the cork and turn the bottle at about a 45-degree angle until the cork pops lightly – with no casualties in the process.
You may think serving a full glass of champagne looks generous on the part of the host, but the pros will shake their heads at that. “You should pour the champagne up to about the middle of the glass to enjoy it at the best temperature because it will get warm after some time out of the bottle.”
Type of glass
Now, here’s a piece of advice few are aware of: “If you really want to dive into the sensations and flavours of your champagne, ask for a white wine glass. Because champagnes are also a type of wine with a long process of maturation in cellars, it really needs to breathe before expressing its full potential.”
Ice or no ice?
Never drink champagne with ice…unless you’re drinking the Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial. While most, if not all other champagnes will lose its flavour and character when diluted with ice, the Ice Imperial is created specifically to be enjoyed with ice – perfect for our Malaysian weather. “With the Ice Imperial, pour the champagne first and add three ice cubes – no more – and it’s ready.”
What type of food to pair with your champagne depends on its dosage, which is the quantity of sugar added to finish the blending. The range of champagnes from driest to sweetest is as follows: extra brut, brut, extra dry, dry, demi sec and doux.
“With brut and extra brut champagnes, even if it’s a blanc or rosé, ask for something savoury like fish or meat. For champagnes like our Ice Imperial, which is a demi sec champagne, you should pair it with something sweeter, like fruits and desserts.”
When to drink
We couldn’t have put it better than Marie-Christine: “Champagne is a wine for many moments – everyday if you can – so don’t wait for a special occasion to open a bottle.” Cheers to that!
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See Moët & Chandon’s full range of champagnes on the official website here.
Images: Courtesy of Moët & Chandon