For those who know how detailed and intricate the process of making champagne is, one would assume that there would be a specific way on how a bottle of bubbly should be stored, served and consumed. And that assumption is not wrong!
This delicate and luxurious drink must be served a certain way in order for one to fully enjoy its taste. This article will walk you through exactly how you should store, serve and enjoy your fine bottle of champagne – chilled or ice cold!
How to Store Champagne
Unlike most other wines, champagnes are more sensitive to temperature and light. Therefore, most champagnes are bottled in a light-resistant, dark green glass. Even so, it is highly advised to keep the bottles away from direct bright or artificial lights.
Champagne bottles should also be stored in a cool place. It is better that the room it is stored in has a temperature that does not fluctuate much and is relatively constant. However, the very best way to store bubbly is if you have a dedicated wine fridge or temperate and humidity-controlled cellar.
There is an ongoing debate on whether you should store your champagne bottles standing up or lying down on its side. Both methods are suitable but it depends on how long you are planning to store them.
For short-term storage for up to a maximum of a month, storing your champagne bottles standing up is the best and most practical way to do it.
As for long-term storage, especially for vintage cuvées, storing them on their sides on a wine rack or stacked in the same way as in a cellar is best. Storing them on their sides is better so that the cork does not dry out like it tends to do if the bubbly bottles are kept upright for a long period of time.
Keeping the temperature constant is as important as the temperature of the storage, which is ideally at about 7°C to 10°C. What often kills good wine is the wild fluctuations of temperature. Therefore, it is highly recommended to keep the bottles away from the kitchen, garage or shed if you do not own a cellar as these areas of the home tend to be more subject to constant temperature changes.
How to Chill Champagne
There are several ways for you to chill your champagne before serving it. Depending on whether you have a non-vintage or vintage champagne, the ideal temperature for serving varies. You can use your fridge, freezer (not recommended) or an ice bucket to chill your champagne.
For non-vintage champagnes, the ideal serving temperature range is from 6°C – 9°C. When it is poured and warmed up in the glass, it would give the champagne a drinking temperature of 8°C – 13°C. It would take approximately 4 hours in a fridge, 15 minutes in a freezer and 20 minutes in an ice bucket to chill the champagne to the ideal temperature. You should also touch both the neck and the body of the bottle to check before serving. Only serve it when both parts feel about the same.
For vintage and special cuvée champagnes, the ideal serving temperature range is from 10°C – 12°C. It would take approximately 3 hours in the fridge, 10 minutes in a freezer and 15 minutes in an ice bucket. Vintage champagnes are more delicate compared to the non-vintage ones and because of that, it is served a little warmer as compared to non-vintage champagnes.
Your taste buds will be stunned and the flavours will not be as pronounced on the palate if the bubbly is served too cold.
So, why is it that the non-vintage champagnes are served colder than the vintage ones? That is because the colder temperatures help to conceal any defects or mask lacklustre delicacy that comes with certain non-vintage champagnes. Hence, the vintage champagnes that are more complex in structure are served slightly warmer in order to bring out its full taste.
As mentioned above, it is not recommended to chill your champagne in the freezer. This is because it is likely to kill the bubbles in your bubbly and the champagne will tend to be over-chilled. When it is too cold, the champagne is unable to release its aromas and flavours, leaving you tasting rather flat champagne.
Can you drink Champagne on the rocks?
With all the details on what the ideal serving temperature is for vintage and non-vintage champagnes and the methods on how to chill them, one could not help but wonder – what if it is a hot day? What if I want my Champagne to be cooler than cool? What if I want it ice cold?
Throughout the years, champagne has promoted itself as a drink only for special celebratory occasions with a really sophisticated and complicated process of production. When serving, there are many particulars to take note of, branding itself as rather tedious to do so. Adding ice and any sort of wine to champagne is considered a taboo, given that temperature plays a huge role when it comes to serving bubbly.
However, the years have gone by and champagne has become more of a drink for any occasion rather than just for special, ceremonial or celebratory occasions. This shift of attitude towards wines was brought about by the younger generation and they have no problem experimenting and trying out something new and different.
Different trends of drinking champagne have been uncovered. There is a trend in the south of France where people started to drink champagne with ice. More and more, sommeliers have realized that people not only want to drink something chic, but they would also want to feel refreshed and enjoy it more casually. This is particularly geared towards the warmer seasons.
Moët & Chandon, the iconic champagne brand, has decided to try to be more understanding towards what the consumers want and came up with the first blend that is developed for drinking over ice – the Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial and Ice Impérial Rosé that debuted in 2011.
Although it is not exactly caught on, you can drink champagne on the rocks. It may not be what you expect champagne to taste like.
Best Champagnes for drinking over ice
The whole reason behind not drinking champagne too cold is because you will not be able to enjoy all that the taste that bubbly has to offer. Since it is regarding the flavour, adding ice to champagne would just dilute and change the flavour when the ice melts, hence the recommended fridge or ice bucket chilling methods.
By including the melting of ice in the equation, the champagnes that are meant for drinking with ice are more aromatic and sweeter than your normal champagnes. They are meant to be diluted with ice in order to bring out its flavour on your palate.
Here is a list of some recommendations for ice Champagnes:
Moët Ice Impérial Blanc NV
Pop in 3 large ice cubes into a glass of Moët Ice Impérial Blanc NV in order to get the perfect balance of water and wine.
Moët Ice Impérial Rosé
The Moët Ice Impérial Rosé is less sweet than the Moët Ice Impérial Blanc NV with hints of bright fruits. Because of the lower sugar dosage, 2 ice cubes will be perfect for this ice Champagne.
Veuve Clicquot Rich
It is highly recommended to pair this ice champagne with garnishes of pineapple, grapefruit zest, cucumber, celery or peppers to enhance its flavour.
Veuve Clicquot Rich Rosé
As for this Rosé, you can complement its red fruity flavour with some ginger, pineapple or lime.
One thing to take note of is the type of ice that you put into your wine. It is recommended that only ice made from filtered or bottled water is allowed because the flavours of the ice cube will be imparted into the wine when it melts. Crushed ice is also not recommended as they melt faster than ice cubes which may result in your champagne being diluted too much.
A delicate, sensitive, and sophisticated drink such as champagne would surely have its own way of storage and serving methods. There are various ways in which you can store and chill it before serving. The taboo of adding ice to a glass of champagne has been broken in today’s modern times and you can now purchase champagnes that have been specifically designed to be drunk over ice. However, you can still pop an ice cube in your glass of Champagne even if it is not the type that is meant to be drunk with ice to try if it suits your palate. However, keep in mind that these ice Champagnes are all non-vintage Champagnes. You should never add ice to any vintage Champagnes as the flavour will be ruined by the melting ice.