filed on: 03.24
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A girl’s guide to champagne

Bubbly, champers, sparkling wine—let’s talk champagne, ladies.  Or is it Champagne with a capital C?

You already know you delight in sipping the effervescent drink that makes every occasion a special one. But here are a few facts that every girl should know about this fizzy beverage.

What is Champagne?

The sparkling wine is typically produced from white Chardonnay, Pinot noir or Pinot Meunier grapes, or a blend of two or all three.

The production process involves pressing the grapes, two stages of fermentation and aging. After the wine has aged, it goes through a special process called riddling (or remuage in French, if we want to be fancy!), which requires the bottles to be positioned with the cap pointed down at an angle and turned every few days so that the sediment settles into the neck and can be frozen and removed before recorking.

Champagne vs. sparkling wine—what’s the difference?

So what’s the distinction between Champagne, the proper noun, and champagne, the more general term? Only sparkling wines produced in the specific region of Champagne, France, can officially be called Champagne. This region, located about 90 miles northeast of Paris (45 minutes by high-speed train), has developed a set of rules and requirements for how wine must be produced if it will bear the name Champagne. Those sparkling wines produced outside of the region are technically “sparkling wine” or “champagne” with a lowercase c.

How do I know how sweet it is?

Do you like your bubbly sweet or dry? There’s a spectrum of sweetness, which depends on how ripe the grapes are and how much sugar is added after the second fermentation. From least sweet to most sweet, the labels will read: extra brut, brut, extra dry, sec, demi-sec, doux.

What is rosé champagne?

Also known as pink champagne, rosé refers to sparkling wine produced one of two ways: the juice of black grapes sits with the dark grape skins and picks up the coloring, or a little Pinot noir wine is added to tint the liquid.

Why is it usually served in a flute?

Fluted glasses are perfect for enjoying champagne because the shape helps the bubbles flow and strengthens the aroma. Be sure to chill the champagne in the fridge or in an ice water bucket beforehand for best results!

How do I open a bottle like a pro?

The key is keeping the cork under control. Always position the bottle so the cork is pointed away from you or other people. First, remove the outer foil. Then twist the arm of the wire cage to loosen it. Hold the cork steady with one hand and carefully rotate the bottle while holding it at an angle.

This technique allows the cork to ease out of the bottle, rather than shoot across the room, spraying champagne everywhere and possibly injuring your guests. (A typical bottle can shoot a cork 42 feet at 50 miles per hour!) Want to be extra safe? Throw a kitchen towel over the cork while you open the bottle, so even if the cork goes flying, it doesn’t get far.

What’s the best way to pour it?

To preserve the bubbles and prevent overflowing foam, tilt the glass at an angle and slowly pour the champagne down the side. Pause occasionally as you pour to let the bubbles die down, and fill the flute about two-thirds of the way. And well, well, you’ve got yourself a very nice little pour.

With these tips, you’ll be a brilliant Champagne connoisseur. Now, offer up a little toast, clink glasses with your fellow party-goers and sip that sparkling wine. Cheers, my dear!

xox, Adrienne
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