What do you know about champagne, other than its bubbly, expensive and signals glamour and good times, and possibly, for those who do not know their limits, bad behaviour and a hangover…? Doesn’t everyone know what champagne is? The short answer is ‘no’, and the long answer is ‘noo’. I have heard otherwise perfectly well-educated people say the stupidest things about champagne. It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people suspect you are unsophisticated, than to open it and most assuredly convince them that you are. Why keep them guessing or let them know for sure when you can easily learn how to sound like an expert on champagne? Read, click on the links to listen to the audio and learn more…
It’s not champagne unless it comes from Champagne, so don’t call sparkling wine from California or Australia (however wonderful it is) ‘champagne’. Until a couple of years, some American wine-makes made use of a nifty loop-hole in international legislation and shamelessly called their sparkling wine ‘champagne’, thereby infuriating the French. That is now mostly closed – the argument is too lengthy to detail here, but no decent and respectful wine-maker outside the Appellation of Champagne would call their product, however refined, ‘champagne’. Interestingly enough, champagne is the only wine that does not need to mention AOC status on the label – the mere fact that it is called champagne is enough to confirm it.
Some trivia: What do you call sparkling wine made outside of the Appellation of Champagne in France? It’s generally called ‘crémant‘, though some of the coarser ones may be referred to as ‘mousseaux‘. (A big thank-you to Jancis Robinson who helped me out here via Twitter – check out her website for all things wine. It is superb).
It is extremely crass to pop the cork and spray champagne over your companions unless you have just won the Grand Prix or a similarly prestigious sporting event. Don’t allow the cork to pop loudly – remove the foil and the wire, gently twist the bottle (not the cork) allowing it to release with a muted thud that says ‘I am a person of the world’, not a loud explosion that says ‘I have learned all I know about champagne from the scene in Dumb, Dumber where they kill an endangered species with an exploding cork.’'}" >