Whether you are running a bar or entertaining some friends at home, you want your guests to have the best time possible. Of course, enjoying a few drinks can be a big part of that, but it is important for you as host to be able to help your guests to avoid overdoing it.
In 1668, in the village of Hautvillers the monk turned cellar master, Dom Perignon, is said to have discovered how to make sparkling wine. The technique is used all over the world today, but the region of Champagne continues to make some of the finest.
So what makes wine sparkle? Adding a solution of sugar and yeast to a white wine starts another fermentation in the bottle, which results in the bubbles. Once the yeasts have done their job, on the side of the bottle collects a sediment known as “lees”. Contact with this deposit during maturation gives the wine its characteristic flavours of freshly baked bread, toast and biscuit. Once this sediment is isolated (remuage) and removed (dégorgement), the champagne is topped up with a sugar solution to make it dry or sweet.
Champagne is the most northerly wine region in France and is situated north-east of Paris. There are three main vineyard areas: Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne and Montagne de Reims. Ripeness of the grapes is often a problem, which is one reason why a blend of grape varieties is usually used; the white Chardonnay to give fruit and elegance and two reds, Pinot Noir particularly to give backbone, and Pinot Meunier.