Champagne

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What type of wine is Champagne?

Originally a generic term that covered all sparkling wine, Champagne now refers only to the sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region in northern France. In essence, all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.

Created from three grapes - chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier - Champagne is made under very strict guidelines with what is called the 'methode champenoise'- literally, 'the Champagne method'. This method involves creating the bubbles in the bottle (also known as the effervescence) in a secondary fermentation process.

What does Champagne taste like?

Each of the three grapes used to make Champagne add different elements to the taste. The chardonnay grapes bring structure and minerality, the pinot noir grapes bring perfume, body and richness, while the pinot meunier brings a rounded fruitiness and spice.

Champagne comes in seven distinct levels of sweetness, ranging from sweet (Doux 50+) to bone dry (Brut Nature 0-3), with the numbers referring to the grams of sugar per litre. The age of the Champagne will also affect the taste.

Most Champagne is non-vintage, meaning that generally Champagne makers blend the juice from several different years. This allows them to keep a consistent flavour profile from year to year. A vintage Champagne is a Champagne that is made from the grapes of one year only, which means the creator thought that that year's grape production was worthy of special note. 

What food pairs best with Champagne?

For many purists, true Champagne can also be recognised not just by taste, but by sound, sight and smell. As with many great drops, there is a variety of foods which can be paired with Champagne and it can often come down to the personal taste of the drinker.

Considered by many to be the most versatile of all wines. Brut Champagne is best served with stronger flavours like red meats, truffles and main courses, while the sweeter Champagnes can work well with seafood, cheeses or desserts.