When you think of celebration, you think of champagne. It is often a rich people’s drink, but it isn’t a surprise that almost every person is inquisitive about how it tastes. Does it mimic the taste of a “sparkling” white wine? Does it draw its flavor profile from citrus notes? The list is extensive.
Depending on the types of grapes used, champagne is categorized into different types. You have the staple Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, the most exotic.
The real question that most people have is about the taste of this drink. This article will explore everything you need to know about how champagne tastes and the basic characteristics of this drink.
Characteristics of Champagne Taste
Now, the question is, “How would one describe the taste of champagne?” If we had to discuss things in sight, champagne is a “bubbly drink with a light body and highly acidic taste.”
Many individuals tasting champagne for the first time suggest it hits you with multiple flavors. It includes a combination of citrus, cherry, peach, and grape flavors, all mixed into one. Surprisingly, some even suggest they can taste the flavors of almond and brioche.
Before you get surprised thinking it’s farfetched, it’s not. Champagne is aged on the lees, which imparts a distinct woody and sweet flavor note to the drink. Also, drinking champagne involves a creamy mousse-like texture, smooth and buttery on the palate.
Most of the high-quality, long-aged, and expensive bottles of wine will give you a hint of every last flavor we discussed. But, above all, a good bottle of champagne feels like a velvety pillow in the mouth.
Another factor that affects the taste and depth of the champagne is the type of grapes used. These include:
Chardonnay grapes – These are the elite group of grapes that have a blend of lime blossom and citrus white flower flavor to them. It adds freshness to the champagne, which justifies the price you pay.
Pinot noir grapes – If you enjoy a mix of complex citrus and floral notes in your champagne, pinot noir grapes are responsible.
Pinot Meunier grapes – These variants of grapes make the most sought-after types of champagne with a blend of floral and fruity flavors to it.
Another factor that affects the taste and flavor of champagne is the level of sweetness. You might not know the difference as a beginner, but it influences the taste gravely.
Describing the Taste of Champagne
To truly understand the taste and flavor of champagne, one has to engage all of their senses. Not just in the case of champagne, this technique is used for tasting almost every kind of alcohol, especially wines.
Here’s a better understanding of what we are trying to say:
Champagne, as we mentioned before, is a sparkling, bubbly drink. So, when you open the bottle, you should hear a discreet popping sound and then a soft hiss from the drink’s fizziness. It doesn’t stop there; when you pour the champagne into a flute, the drink should create crackling and fizzy sounds and not be a still drink. If it’s the latter, you know for a fact that it’s not a good bottle.
The next thing to focus on is the visuals. How does the champagne look? A good-quality bottle of champagne will have a crystalline and clear liquid inside it. Regarding the color, champagne ranges from golden blond to grey gold. If your drink is too “white or clear” or “too golden,” it is another sign that the bottle isn’t good quality.
You can assess the taste and quality of a champagne bottle based on its aroma. Instead of being too strong, champagne has a subtle and fizzy aroma. The taste will vary depending on the type of champagne you are drinking. For example, Chardonnay has a mix of lime-blossom and white flower aromas, while Pinot Meunier has more complex fruit aromas like strawberries.
The last factor to consider when tasting champagne is the taste and mouthfeel. As mentioned before, a good bottle of champagne will feel velvety in the mouth. It’s smooth and light on the palate, almost refreshing. You need to realize that the taste depends on the duration of aging and the kind of grapes used for making them.
As a beginner, it might be impossible to distinguish the types of champagne based on flavors alone. However, the more you drink it and get accustomed to the taste, the easier it becomes to segregate the types. It’s all about understanding the flavor notes, the aroma, and the mouthfeel of the champagne you are drinking.
Understanding the Levels of Sweetness in Champagne
Besides the grapes and the aging, another factor influencing the taste of champagne is the level of sweetness. The additional sweetness is often included during the second fermentation process.
Let us understand the sweetness levels in champagne and how they are categorized.
Brut nature – Includes 3 grams of sugar per liter, making it the least sweet of the lot.
Extra brut – Includes 6 grams of sugar per liter, making it slightly sweeter than the extra brut variant.
Brut – This includes 12 grams of sugar per liter and is one of the most popular variants of the lot.
Extra dry – Contains 12-17 grams of sugar and is slightly sweeter than brut.
Dry – Contains 17-32 grams of sugar per liter.
Demi-sec – Contains 32-50 grams of sugar per liter.
Doux – This is the sweetest champagne containing over 50 grams of sugar per liter.
The level of sweetness in champagne also depends on the types of grapes used. For example, Chardonnay is made only from white grapes. On the other hand, Pinot Noir is produced from 100% black grapes.
Pairing Champagne with Food
Champagne is quite a versatile drink with various food types and cuisines. You can pair it with salty, sour, and even spicy foods.
As for the most common foods that go best with champagne, we have to include the following:
Different types of cheese
Not just that, champagne tastes great with unconventional foods like sushi and salty appetizers. Since champagne has a clean and refreshing taste, it isn’t surprising that pairing it with oily and fatty foods is always a great choice to cut through the meal’s richness.
One thing that many people aren’t aware of is the fact that champagne is a digestif. This suggests that it pairs well with desserts too. So, if you want to finish your meal on a sweeter note, pairing sweet champagne with light desserts like ice creams and gelato makes a great choice.
Champagne Tasting Tips
Tasting champagne requires some preconceived knowledge and expertise, especially if you want to maximize the experience.
These tips are essential if you don’t want the drink to fall flat on your palate. To help you out, we have sorted some of the best-tasting tips you can check out for yourself:
1. Getting Started
Tasting champagne is more than the thrill of popping the cork and drinking the overflow. To savor the drink’s taste, you must drink it in the right glass.
In this case, champagne pairs best with a flute, tulip glass, or a coupe. Besides, that will extensively affect the tasting experience, which is the last thing you want. Also, the temperature of the glass plays a crucial role in the overall tasting experience, so consider that as well.
2. Pouring the Drink
Pouring your champagne into the flute is an art. This means that besides the ideal serving temperature of the glass, the way you pour the drink makes a difference too. You want to tilt the glass at an angle and pour the champagne slowly to keep the fizziness intact.
3. Taste like a Professional
Tasting a flute of champagne should involve all of your senses. Start with your sight and savor the beautiful golden color of this crystal-clear liquid. Then comes the smell. Swish the drink in the flute to savor the rich aroma. Finally comes the palate. Don’t chug down your champagne. Instead, champagne is meant to be savored in small sips. While taking a sip, inhale the drink’s aroma to enhance the whole experience further.
There’s not much rocket science to tasting a flute of champagne. It is more about engaging your collective senses, including your sense of aroma, taste, and the way the champagne looks in the flute.
Why Do People Like Champagne?
Champagne goes hand in hand with luxury. You won’t find a normal middle-class family sporting a bottle of expensive champagne in their cabinets (in most cases). So, most people enjoy drinking champagne because of that association. Besides that, champagne has a very subtle flavor and freshness, which adds to its popularity.
Who Might Not Like Champagne?
Champagne, despite its popularity, isn’t everyone’s favorite. In most cases, people who have never had any alcoholic drinks in their life create an aversion towards champagne after the first sip. Since the beverage is highly acidic, it has a stronger mouthfeel, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
How Is Champagne Usually Served?
Champagne is ideally served cold (8-10°C). If you are served warm champagne, avoid it at all costs. Warm temperature ruins the flavor and the texture of the champagne entirely. Also, the drink is usually served in a flute.
That’s all you need to know about the taste and flavor of champagne, especially if you are drinking it for the first time. Whether you are a seasoned Champagne connoisseur or new to the world of sparkling wines, understanding the taste profile of Champagne can enhance your appreciation of this celebrated drink. We hope this article gives you all the insights you need to know about the drink.