Champagne Day!

August 4th is annual Champagne Day. It’s the date traditionally ascribed to Dom Perignon’s invention of Champagne in 1693. While history has proven claims of monk’s invention of Champagne (along with the quote attributed to him at the time of invention – “Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!”) to be more fanciful than factual, I like any excuse to celebrate, and hoist a glass of champagne. Why let the facts get in the way of what I’m feelin’;-)?!

Here’s the 411 on Champagne…

Wine can only be labeled “champagne” if is made in the Champagne region of northeastern France. If a sparkling wine is produced elsewhere using the traditional French method, credit must be given to the “methode champenoise” on the label. Personally, I just refer to both Champagne, and sparkling wine as “Champagne”

The three traditional grapes used to make champagne are the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. A Blanc de Blanc Champage is made from Chardonnay only, while Blanc de Noir Champagne wine is made from black grapes Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. True Champagne, as opposed to other sparkling wines, has to have developed bubbles by undergoing the fermentation process twice: once in barrels and again in bottles

Champagne/Sparkling wine comes in various levels of sweetness including (going from least sweet to most sweet) Extra-Brut, Brut (the most popular style, and very food friendly), Extra-Dry (my favorite because it has a touch of sweetness, IMO best as an aperitif), Sec, and Demi-Sec.

And finally non-vintage vs vintage Champagne – Non-Vintage accounts for 85-90% of all Champagne produced, and it is less expensive than Vintage Champagne. Non-vintage Champagne is designated as such because the grapes used are harvested from various years (vintages), whereas Vintage Champagne is made from grapes harvested from one particular year (vintage).

My favorite Champagne quote –“I 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’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” – Madam Lilly Bollinger, of the Bollinger brand of Champagnes.
As always…I’ll be practicing what I preach…look for my review!

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