Champagne Rules Forever Set In Stone – No Longer
Champagne rules have always been steadfast and reliable. Today it seems that even the one thing that we could always rely on for consistency and agreement are now shifting. From glassware to decanting Chuck Hayward at JJ Buckley gives us a complete rundown on what is changing in the world of Champagne.
“Champagne has long been on the receiving end of rules—ones about how it is made, how it is labeled, and how it should be drunk. Over the years, we have come to accept those regulations and perhaps even find it comforting that they don’t fluctuate often. But today, champagne is witnessing revisions to concepts that were before considered sacrosanct, and they have nothing to do with grapes or labels. The change has to do with glass vessels.
If there is one rule that has been generally accepted across the board, it is that sparkling wine is best served in a flute, preferably scored at the base to promote effervescence then rinsed with water and dried with a towel. Along that same line of thinking is that the coupe, also referred to as the Marie Antoinette glass, fails to preserve bubbles since the broader surface allows what is in the glass to go flat more quickly. Recently, though, many in the industry are rethinking this.
Most significantly, a slow movement is afoot to replace the traditional flute with a classic wine glass. A number of winemakers and writers claim that in order to maximize the wine’s flavors and enhance aromas, pouring champagne in a burgundy styled glass is preferable to a flute. At the least, they claim, a wider and broader shape to the bowl of the flute is the minimum recommendation.
Another trend that has popped up is for sparkling wines to be decanted. I witnessed this firsthand at a recent tasting hosted by the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne) where the representatives for Charles Heidsieck poured their bubbly out of Riedel’s Amadeo decanters. Once again, the goal is to reveal the flavors that would otherwise appear much more slowly, if at all, when only poured from a bottle…”
These two trend changes go against everything that we have held sacred for Champagne… forever. At this point it is the experts that are holding these opinions. My take is very simple… Let’s wait and see what the consumers think of these new ideas. They will no doubt try them and if they don’t like the taste, always the final test, we will hear about in loud and clear.
Photo credit Martin Beek
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