Are you Guilty of These Champagne Crimes?

19th July 2019

What temperature should you serve Champagne

So you have bought or earned that bottle of Champagne so it is totally down to how you enjoy it right? I am not going to tell you how to drink your well earned bubbles, but I’d question you if you have ever been guilty of any of the following Champagne crimes.

Champagne for many of us is a special treat, something we associate with celebrations, that we receive as a gift or that treat which we add to our weekly shopping basket – There are thousands of labels and styles to enjoy and many a fantastic memory will have no doubt involved Champagne in our lives. Here are a few little hints and tips to take note of for the next time you get that chilled bottle out from the fridge and start unwrapping the foil from around the neck of the bottle…

Champagne label reading

Champagne labels

  • Serve it too cold? Yes, there may be nothing worse than warm Champagne, but did you know that by overcooling your Champagne when it is served you will lose qualities in both aromas and flavours. The recommended temperature to be serving Champagne is at 8-10°C (47-50°F).
  • Popping the cork loudly over gently uncorking with a ‘whisper’: We love that sound of the popping cork don’t we though we are reminded, especially by Sommeliers, that the best way to open a bottle of Champagne is to hold it at a 45 degree angle, place your thumb on the top of the cork, untwist the cage and twist the bottle whilst gripping the cork so to release it gently omitting more of a whisper sound over a loud popping sound.
  • Using Champagne as a weapon: What I am saying here is how many times have you opened a bottle of Champagne without taking care of where the cork is pointing towards – Make sure it is away from people and anything that could break as you need to remember that several people are killed each year from flying corks which can travel around 25 miles per hour.
  • Overfilling your glass: I’m sure a few angry faces here as we’d prefer a fuller glass over a stingy serving, though it is recommended that you should have no more than half your glass filled which will allow the Champagne to breathe and for you to enjoy the aromas (dependent on glass being used).
  • Thinking that vintage means old: When you see a year on a bottle of Champagne it will mean that it is a vintage, though this does not necessarily mean that the wine inside is old – Vintage means that the grapes used to make the wine were all used from the same year, thus you could be enjoying a vintage Champagne that is only three years old (mostly two/three years for non-vintage) or something back from the last century!
  • Associating the word Champagne with expensive: Yes, Champagne is not the cheapest of wines to purchase and it will normally be the most expensive option on the wine menu at the local bar, but you needn’t have to pay lots in order to enjoy a fine Champagne. Supermarkets will usually have a sale or two on Champagne putting them in the region of £15 – £20 and some outlets, such as Aldi, you can even enjoy a great bottle of Champagne at under £10! Of course, you can pay lots and you will get a very fine Champagne, there is a limitless spend in this area, though for those of you simply wanting a great Champagne and no matter what the label then it doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Not reading the label correctly: The label is there to not only let you know that the wine is indeed Champagne and who the maker is, but it will also give you such facts as the alcohol content, age and importantly the style such as dry / brut / extra brut / rosé. Make sure you read the label as I hear many times that people will pick up a bottle that is simply too sweet for their liking having picked up a demi-sec rather than a brut.

Christopher Walkey

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods and within cocktails.