Champagne 101

Nothing says it’s a celebration like Champagne. Since the discovery of Méthod Champenoise, or the Champagne method, it’s grown to become the premier sparkling wine. The first thing you should know about Champagne is that the wine, by definition, must be made in the Champagne region of France. That means all your favorite brands like Moët, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Perignon are all produced in the same area.

Champagne isn’t all expensive. It comes in a variety of prices, and even a variety of styles. There’s even rosé Champagne. Check out VinePair’s full Champagne guide for everything you need to know about everyone’s favorite sparkling wine, as well as some Champagne cocktails.

Champagne vs Sparkling Wine

All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine can be considered Champagne. Much like Prosecco or Cava, Champagne has significant levels of carbon dioxide, which is what makes it fizzy.

Champagne acquires its bubbles through a second fermentation process that takes place inside the bottle. This process is known as Méthod Champenoise (or the “traditional method” outside of Champagne), and is considered the premier way to make sparkling wine. By law, all Champagne must come from the Champagne region of northern France.

Why is Champagne so Expensive?

There are a few reasons why Champagne carries a higher average retail price than any other style of sparkling wine. The first is the cost of grapes. The region’s high risk of frost and sometimes severe weather conditions can impact yields, which in turn influences grape prices. The grapes must also be hand-harvested as the use of machines is forbidden by law. This further impacts cost. In addition, the Méthod Champenoise secondary fermentation process requires hundreds of hours of manual labour, and years of aging before bottles can be released.

How to Open Champagne

Despite what we see in movies, Champagne corks should not fly across the room with precious liquid spilling out the top of the bottle. To properly open Champagne, the pressure inside the bottle needs to be handled with caution.

To start, remove the foil covering and loosen the wire cage. Once doing this, firmly hold onto the cork to prevent it from flying. With steady pressure, slowly turn the bottle with your other hand, keeping hold of the cork on top. Slowly, the pressure will release and the cork will release with a quiet pop.

Check out VinePair’s full Champagne guide for everything you need to know about everyone’s favorite sparkling wine, as well as some Champagne cocktails.

Read Our Full Champagne 101 Guide

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