Real Champagne comes from Champagne
Don’t be fooled by the myriad bottles of sparkling wine from around the world that label themselves as Champagne – to truly qualify it must come from the French region of Champagne. The bottle should also state the name of the company, where the producer is registered and a CIVC identifier.
While many sparkling wines may taste almost as delightful as the real deal, the place of origin is what makes Champagne so very special. Unfortunately, it also tends to make it more expensive, which is why it’s often used as a toasting and celebratory wine.
Grape selection is key
While Champagne tastes as pure and ethereal as if it was just one ingredient, most blends are actually made from a mix of three different grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noi and Pinot Meunier. There are some rare blends of Champagne where only Chardonnay grapes are used, and Pinot Meunier is typically deemed to be the least important of the three.
Along with the types of grapes used, their maturity is also key. Champagne producers look for grapes with as much sugar as possible with high acidity levels, however the grapes should not be too ripe.
Vintage vs non-vintage
Non-vintage, also known as Sans Année Champagne, accounts for up to 90 per cent of all bottles produced. It’s the less expensive type of wine compared to vintage bottles, and is comprised of several different vintages as opposed to a single harvest.
Vintage Champagne is the term used to cover bottles in which all grapes used were harvested in one single year. Producers typically decide for themselves whether they will produce a vintage Champagne in any year, after which it must be aged for at least three years.
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