With over 12,000 brands of champagne to choose from, there is certainly no lack of variety in the marketplace. You may be making your decision of what brand to choose based upon the price, the occasion and the type of champagne you are looking for. Whatever the criteria may be in choosing a particular brand of champagne, there is certainly a tremendous selection available.
There are four primary types of champagne. Non vintage (N.V.) is what is known as “house style” or “style de maison.” This type of champagne is usually a blend of 30 or 40 different kinds of wine and cannot be purchased until it is at least 15 months old.
The second type of champagne is known as vintage. Vintage champagnes are also a blend of different wines; however, the wines used in this blend are from a specific year. Vintage champagne cannot be purchased until it is 39 months old.
The third type is known as rose (pronounced rose-AY). This is defined by the red tint or hue added to the champagne. This hue is achieved by either adding a small amount of red wine to the champagne, or by saturating black grapes during the pressing process, allowing the skin of the grapes to give the champagne its color.
The fourth type of champagne is known as prestige cuvees. Prestige cuvee can be either a vintage or a nonvintage blend, but it is the highest-priced champagne available from a given champagne house. One of the most famous examples of a prestige cuvee champagne is Moet’s Dom Perignon.
Champagne Houses and Brands
Champagne houses create the different brands of champagne. Each house must adhere to specific criteria in order to be able to sell its product in the worldwide marketplace. The general criteria state that all houses must guarantee that their brand will partake in a “global strategy that includes making, selling and marketing” their champagne. Next, they must assure that their consumers will be informed of the champagne-making process. And finally, they must actively partake in wine production and research to insure improvement of their product while preserving the environment in connection with other champagne houses.
A short list of some of the most popular brands among the thousands available includes Charles Heidsieck, Moet & Chandon, Deligny Gerard, Piper Heidsieck, Gremillet, Joseph Perrier, Leroux-Mineau and Fournier Thierry.
Champagne is specifically a sparkling white wine, and the word champagne refers to the region in France where the wine is produced. Champagne is created by blending specific wines together to give the wine its superior flavor. Dom Perignon was a 17th-century Benedictine monk who is credited with creating champagne.
Preserving and Storing Champagne
The best way to store champagne while maintaining its effervescence is to place the bottle in a cool, dark place with an ideal temperature of 50 to 55 degrees. Depending upon the champagne, most types can be stored for up to two years. Champagnes have been aged prior to your purchasing them, so any additional storage time may contribute to the deterioration of the wine. To preserve the carbonation in an opened bottle of champagne, place a metal spoon in the neck of the bottle, or simply use a special pressurized bottle corker.
References and ResourcesGreat Party Recipes: Guide to Opening Champagne, Serving and Storing It
UMC: Champagne Brands and Houses