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Tuesday, August 03, 2004
The One With The Champagne 

It is something ODD actually. No, we dont drink champagne or any alcohol drink. But I am using a body scrub which has blueberry and champagne in it. In which I believe the champagne mentioned is the grape fruit from Champagne, France. Hence, came the topic of what is actually champagne.

Facts on Champagne:

1. Champagne is a region of France, and only wines which come from this region can properly be called "Champagne". Similar drinks should be called "sparkling wines".

2. Champagne's signature bubbles were included by accident by the monk Dom Pérignon back in the 1700s.

3. Champagne is made using the Methode Champenoise, which requires two fermentations.

4. Grapes, the important part of any wine, are carefully harvested in fall.

5. The grapes used in sparkling wines are typically Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris. Some Champagnes are made solely with Chardonnay.

6. The wine is fermented in a stainless steel tank for 2 to 3 weeks, and then sat up to five months (A special process from the normal wine making).

7. When the winemaker decides to move forward, the wine is bottled with extra sugar and yeast, and capped with a soda-cap for one year to three years or more. When this second fermentation and resting period are over, the yeast and sediment must be removed from the bottle.

8. The bottles are put into a riddling rack, which slowly rotates the now-re-fermenting wine from a horizontal position up to a vertical one. This allows the sediment from the second fermentation to slowly slide down into the neck of the bottle, for easy removal.

9. The removal process is called disgorgement. The neck of the bottle is stuck into this machine, which freezes it. When the cap is removed, the frozen plus of sludge is kicked out, a "dosage" of Champagne is added to fill in the space in the bottle, and it is corked with the standard, large Champagne cork.

10. The cork starts out as a straight 'tube' shape. It is only the pressure and system of corking that gives it its mushroom head and flared bottom.

11. Champagne is stored at around 55F, in a dark, damp location, stored on its side to keep the cork from drying out.

12. Champagne should be served at about 45 degrees. A few hours in the fridge should bring the temperature down, but never store any wine for more than a few days in the fridge.

13. Champagne is served in tall, narrow-necked glasses, called flutes. Do not use wide-brimmed glasses - they cause the drink to quickly lose both bubbles and flavor.

14. There are different types of Champagne. Brut (the 'great' Champagne) is the driest, and the "standard". Extra-dry is less dry than Brut. Sec is sweet, and Demi Sec is even sweeter.

15. Vintage bottles are, like most wines, from a single year's worth of grapes. Unlabeled or non-vintage bottles are from a blend of years.

Champagne & Sparkling Guide by Lisa Shea
How Champagne is Made by Lisa Shea
The Bubbly Stuff
The Bubbly 101 by CNN

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