French Champagne – All You Want to Know

Posted by on December 6, 2011

French Champagne, All you want to know. French Champagne is the most famous wine in France, and the most imitated. Champagne gets its name from the Champagne region of France where it is produced. Champagne existed before Don Perignon to whom its invention is attributed in the 16th century. At that time, it was believed that its sparkle was a defect. Don Perignon decided to keep its sparkling quality and enhance it further. This method is called Methode Champenoise.

Champagne is made with black Pinot grapes (75% Pinot, 25% Chardonnay.) The Pinot grapevines cover the largest part of the vineyards of Champagne. Only Champagne called Blanc de Blancs is made from white grapes. Chardonnay grows, in Champagne, exclusively on the ‘Cote de Blancs,’ south of Epernay.

The champenoise method follows: The grapes ferment in barrels, as do other wines, for at least one year. Then they are fermented again, this time in bottles. This explains the special corks, held by metal wires. To accelerate fermentation, a dose of syrup is added to each bottle before it is capped. This syrup is made with wine and purified cane sugar. The syrup’s concentration varies according to the desired quality of the champagne. The sweeter it is, the cheaper the champagne.The best champagne is Brut, because it is the most natural.

The bottles will remain at least two and-a-half years in the chalky caves of Champagne. During the first year, each bottle will be turned by hand, each day, by a fourth of a turn. The chalky condition of the caves promotes an exact temperature and exact humidity levels. I had the pleasure of visiting the caves in Epernay … kilometer after kilometer of bottles. The long walk was worthwhile as a degustation greeted me at the end of the journey.

So, it takes at least three years to create a bottle of Champagne. Unlike other wines, however, champagne does not require aging for a long time. It should be at least four years old, but not older than ten years.

Champagne is the perfect accompaniment for dessert. For grand occasions, it can also accompany an entire meal. In this case, in France, no other wine is served and the Champange must be Brut.

Plesase refer to the previous articles I have submitted on the history of French wines, and my articles on the history of French cooking. Coming up soon, the history of French cheese. Every meal served in France, even in the most modest household, includes wine, cheese, and of course French bread. So, I will include my recipe for homemade French bread. See you then.

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