10 Things you didn’t know about Champagne

There comes a time in every women’s life, when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne” Bette Davis



1.  It can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France.

EU law and the laws of most countries reserve the term “Champagne” for wines that come from this region located 100 miles east of Paris. Wines “champagnes” from the towns of Epernay, Hautvillers and Reims are classed as some of the best in the world.

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Frances Champagne Region shown with other wine regions.

2. Vintage Champagne may not be that old.

To be classed as vintage, the grapes must all be from a single year. Most champagne is non-vintage, meaning that it is a blended product of grapes from multiple years. under Champagne house regulations, houses that make both vintage and non-vintage champagne are allowed to use no more than 80% of the total vintage harvest for the production of vintage Champagne, the other 20% has to be reserved for use in non-vintage Champagne. This ensures a consistent style that consumers come to expect from non-vintage Champagne.

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My bottle of 2008 Vintage Verve Cliquot.

3. The smaller the bubbles – the better the champagne.

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4. Verve Clicquot, famous for its yellow label and readily available in supermarkets, was         the first label to produce a Rose Champagne.

Pink Champagne was a cheap, sweet version of sparkling wine made in the 1950s and 60s because the American public thought Brut Champagne was too dry. Brut Rose Champagne came along in the 1990s, this version is as dry as Brut Champagne. It is produced by adding a small amount of Pinot Noir red wine to give it colour.

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5. Sparkling wine was first discovered in England in 1622. Dom Perignon discovered             sparkling champagne by accident in 1693. Until then champagne was still.

Dom Perignon was a monk and cellar master at the Benedictine Abbey in Hautvillers. He pioneered several wine making techniques. He was the first to blend grapes in such a way as to improve the quality of wines. Dom Perignon perfected the art of producing white juice from red grapes as well as introducing the use of corks instead of wood. Most famously, he maintained the sugar content in wine, to induce secondary fermentation, thus producing the bubble we associate with Champagne today. The development of sparkling wines as Champagne developed rapidly in the 19th century, more than a century after Dom Perignon’s death. 300,000 bottles were produced in 1800, 50 years later production had risen to 20 million. In 2007, Champagne sales reached an all time record of 338.7 million bottles.

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The tomb of Dom Perignon is the abbey at Hautvillers situated in front of the altar.

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Dom Perignon Champagne is now owned by Moet & Chandon.

 

6. Champagne is made up of 3 different types of grapes, only one of which, chardonnay,        is white. The other two red varietys are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Most Champagnes are made from a blend of all three grapes, although Blanc de blanc Champagne is made of 100% Chardonnay and Blanc de noir is made solely from Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier or a mix of the two.

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Sampling Champagne in Hautvillers

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A glass of 100% Chardonnay and one of 100% Meunier

 

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Richard having coffee because someone had to drive!

 

7. Flying corks kill more people every year than poisonous spider bites.

Most of these deaths and accidents occur at weddings.

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8. There are approximately 49 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne.

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9. The oldest known bottles of Champagne, date from between 1782 and 1788.

In 2010, a group of Finnish divers found 168 bottles of Champagne in the wreck of the Foglo in the Baltic Sea. The bottles were traced to the now defunct Juglar Champagne house and also to Verve Clicquot. The well-preserved Champagne was declared drinkable in 2015.

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One of the oldest bottles of Champagne on display in the cellars od Verve Clicquot along with one bottle from every vintage year.

 

10. The best size bottle to drink is a magnum, which is equivalent to 2 bottles of champagne.

Other sizes of Champagne are below.

size-chart

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A standard bottle and my Magnum.

 

Lily Bollinger said about Champagne:-

“I drink it 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’m not hungry and drink it when I am. 

Otherwise I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty.”

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Richard and me in Cramant on our recent trip to the Champagne region

 

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