Champagne, and sparkling wine in general, tends to have plenty of questions swirling around it. From the process of making Champagne to the joy of sipping Champagne, questions abound. We’ll take a look at some of the most common, off-the-cuff questions about Champagne here.
Is Champagne Wine?
Yes, Champagne is made from fermented grapes – typically Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The same process of cultivating grapes for still wines is used in the cultivation of Champagne vineyards.
Champagne is made from a mighty blend of anywhere from 30 to over 50 individual still wines from various villages in Champagne, and often different vintages, except in the case of “vintage” Champagne. The wines go through a primary fermentation process and then a secondary fermentation process, thanks to another infusion of sugar and yeast, to create and cap the bubbles.
Is Champagne the Same as Sparkling Wine?
Technically Champagne is only considered “Champagne” when it comes from Champagne, France. Everything else is sparkling wine. Though various wine regions call their sparkling wines by different monikers: Cava in Spain, Prosecco in Italy, Sekt in Germany and Cremant for bubblies from all other areas of France. However, many sparkling wines around the globe are made with the same grapes and in the same method (the traditional method of Champagne, “Méthode Champenoise”) where the second fermentation happens in the bottle as opposed to a closed tank.
Is Champagne Sweet or Dry to Taste?
Champagne may be made in both sweet and dry formats, with varying degrees of each depending on the individual bottle style.
Looking for dry? Scout for bottles that say “brut” or “extra brut.” Sweeter styles give themselves away with label designates of “sec” and “demi-sec.”
Is Champagne Served Warm or Cold?
Champagne (and all sparkling wines) should be served well-chilled, in the 40-50 °F range. The flavors will be brighter, the bubbles better, and there’s much less chance of launching the cork in a well-chilled bottle of bubbly.
Is Champagne Vegan?
Most wines, including Champagne, use a fining agent to remove larger particles out and clarify the wine. A variety of fining agents exist, but many of the most common are actually animal products: egg whites, casein, gelatin, and fish bladders to name a few. Some smaller producers make efforts to produce wines without the use of traditional, animal-derived fining agents. Is Champagne Gluten-free?
Generally speaking, all wine is gluten-free. That said, there are instances where neutral barrels may have been used to hold a malt-based beverage prior to being put into practice in a winery setting. This is not overly common, but an obvious instance where some cross-contamination could occur. More and more producers are aware of gluten issues and are avoiding wheat-based pastes used on occasion to seal barrels as well. If you’ve got a favorite producer, a quick call to the wine estate can provide some easy answers on potential for gluten contamination, especially as more consumers are scouring labels on both food and wine.
Is Champagne Expensive
Yes…and no. It depends on if you are buying high-end, vintage Champagne from a top producer or an entry level bottle from a reputable Champagne House. Price points for true Champagne range from $30 to hundreds of dollars, depending on which region, village, vineyard, and vintage the bottle comes from. Looking for a solid entry-level Champagne that’s easy to find and even easier to sip? Check out Piper-Heidseick’s Brut Cuvee ($30) or Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label ($50). Want to turn it up a notch, then check out a bottle of Bollinger or Louis Roederer.
Is Champagne Better Aged?
Higher-end Champagne is often aged longer prior to release, and vintage Champagne can gain additional layers of complexity if well-stored. However, in general most bottles of Champagne and sparkling wine are ready to enjoy once they hit the shelves and will not get better with age.
By Stacy Slinkard
**Grabbed from: http://wine.about.com/od/champagne/a/Is-Champagne.htm