Champagne is the go-to drink for marking an occasion. Commonly thought of as something to open only in celebration, Napoleon put it best when he said of Champagne: “in success you deserve it, and in defeat you need it.”
While some refer to any sparkling wine as ‘Champagne’, technically it refers only to sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France, where the cool climate and chalky soils produce grapes perfectly balanced on the knife-edge of ripeness and acidity. This tart fruit, once double-fermented and aged for a minimum of 18 months on the ‘lees’ (yeast left over after fermentation), produces sparkling wines that offer a complexity and an ability to age unsurpassed by those from any other region.
How to Buy Champagne:
Most Champagne sold throughout the world comes from one of the major brand houses, such as Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, or Bollinger. While there’s nothing wrong with buying a Champagne brand, you’ll find more interest and diversity by choosing a smaller ‘grower’ Champagne such as Henri Dosnon or Egly-Ouriet. Unlike the major brands, which buy fruit in from dozens of different sources, growers tend their own vineyards, and make their own Champagne from their own fruit.
Most good wine merchants will have a range of grower Champagnes, and if you ask for a recommendation, you’re likely to get something even more delicious than a major brand, often for significantly less money.
How to open Champagne:
Being under pressure from the fizz inside, Champagne bottles look a little different to standard wine bottles, and come with a very different closure, typically a mushroom-shaped cork enclosed by a wire cage and foil.
These are intended to stop the pressurised cork from flying out of the bottle unexpectedly, but do cause more of a challenge getting that sucker open.
Check out our 24/7 video guide on to find out how to open Champagne in just 24 seconds and 7 words - and follow the steps underneath.
- Tear the foil from the top of the bottle. Usually there’ll be a tab to get you going.
- Holding your thumb over the top of the wire cage to stop the cork popping out, slowly unwind the wire key until the cage comes off.
- Keeping your thumb and grip on the top of the cork, slowly rotate the bottom of the bottle with your other hand, until you feel the cork start to release.
- Ideally you want the cork to come out of the bottle neck slowly, with a small ‘pfft’ of gas as it releases. This is the suave, sophisticated way to open the bottle.
- Or let it fly and spray it everywhere. Just don’t aim at anyone or expect us to clear up the sticky mess afterwards. You’re not Lewis Hamilton.
Get popping, wine-Pros!