to summer with Champagne
summer, treat yourself to a refreshing glass of chilled Champagne. Bill Belkin,
category manager of Wines
& Spirits, explains how Champagne is made – and what makes it so
different from other sparkling white wines.
Champagne is a delicious – and
often misunderstood – wine that’s delicious all year round!
What makes Champagne different
from other sparkling wines? The answer: location, location, location! While
some people use the word “Champagne” to describe all sparkling wines, the only
true Champagne is made in one of the northernmost wine producing regions of the
world, in the Champagne region of France.
The secret to Champagne? In its
still wine stage, Champagne undergoes a unique second fermentation while in the
bottle. Other wines are simply shot full of carbon dioxide while in a tank,
Champagne also stands out because
of its blending. Cellar masters use three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and
the obscure Pinot Meunier. Remember that all great wines begin with great
grapes – Champagne is no different.
The best grapes from Grand Cru or Premier Cru vineyards, within the Champagne
region, are specified when making that first fermentation of still wine, before
the yeast and sugars are added to start that magical secondary fermentation. This
quality is reflected in the complexity, flavors and length of finish in the
Remember that a vintage bottle of Champagne contains grapes coming entirely
from the year on the bottle. It should be a better bottle as not every year is
declared a vintage year in the region. A non-vintage bottle, however, will
always carry that “house style” as it’s a blend of several years (vintage and
not) that are stored in caves at the domain.
The wine world is full of paradigms and sayings that are rather, well… they’re
sayings. But one that I will stick by is that once you’ve had GOOD Champagne,
all others will seem like bubbly grape juice.
For a delicious twist, enjoy Champagne in delicious mimosas (mixed with orange juice)
or Bellinis (mixed with peach nectar). Or just keep it simple and serve glasses
of chilled champagne on a hot summer evening – wonderful paired with Délice de
Bourgogne, a fragrant triple-cream cheese from Burgundy, France, that is
recognized for its rich, buttery sweet cream flavors. Look for it at our cheese
counter, located in our deli.