What should you add to your Champagne?

1st August 2016

What should you add to your Champagne?

What I am speaking about here is what compliments within the glass should you be adding, if in deed you should be adding anything at all! Yes, we all now know that many foods pair well with Champagne and if you throw in what company you are in and the location you find yourself then there are many compliments that can be added to make your glass of bubbly taste even better!

Professionally I would say that I have yet to see anything being added to the glass when tasting and enjoying Champagne, it would probably be seen as a horror move, especially by the winemaker who’s attention to detail to produce the finest of flavours from each bottle he/she makes is what many would say is an art. I am sure though many will say, ‘what about adding some ice’ or ‘how about some fresh orange juice’ and some of you will be already shouting out ‘what about Champagne cocktails‘!

Yes, all of the above are fine, and let’s face it, if you’ve got a hard earned glass of Champagne in your hand then it is your right to enjoy it just how you please. I remember once at a social event in London where I was bought a kir royale that someone of the group said that adding any compliment to a glass of Champagne is like travelling budget when you’ve a first class ticket in your pocket, I must say I did enjoy the kir royale despite this thought! I would recommend though that you think about the following if you are wanting to add something with your Champagne:

  • Adding Ice. Yes, this may cool the drink down quickly, but you are also watering down what is a very fine wine… If you have a warm bottle of Champagne and this is the only reason you are adding ice, remember that the bottle you are about to drink most probably took 18+ months to make and sometimes a lot longer so that extra half hour of chilling is well worth the wait. Try not to add ice unless you are opting for some cocktails.
  • Fresh Fruit. This option I do see quite often and I must admit that at times, for certain Champagne I drink, a slice of fresh Strawberry, raspberries and other Summer fruit berries can really add an extra touch to what you are drinking. Try not to over power things by adding too many as they will drown out the complex taste of Champagne.
  • Cassis and other liqueurs. As mentioned previously, the likes of a kir royals (Champagne and cassis) are commonly drank and enjoyed. Think about what Champagne you are going to add it too, it may be common sense, but try not to spoil a vintage or limited edition Champagne by adding liqueurs as you will be taking away a very unique tasting experience.
  • Fresh fruit juice. Most commonly we associate fresh orange juice with Champagne. What we commonly know as a Mimosa (cocktail of Champagne / Sparkling Wine and fresh fruit juice) is a popular option for many, especially with the thought of a breakfast in bed as the sun shines through the open windows kind of experience. Yes I have tried this and it is indeed most refreshing!
  • Cocktails. There are many to choose from and plenty of experiences to be had out there with both well known traditional options to cocktails unique to countries and even to famous bars/restaurants. Most common ingredients added include sugar, twist of orange, cognac, mint leaves and even on occasions Guinness!

If you are out with friends then I say, go forth and enjoy your glass of Champagne just the way you like it! I would add that if you are tasting / enjoying Champagne within a wine professionals kind of situation and most certainly if you are drinking it in front of the winemaker then think twice about adding anything to your glass! What you may see as adding a fruity compliment to a glass of Champagne others may see as being exactly the same as pouring brown sauce over truffles.


Christopher Walkey

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