Champagne…what’s not to love? I recently found out about a champagne tasting night at our local wine store, Esquin, in Seattle. I knew I had to be there. There was a line to get champagne tasting glasses initially then there were stations placed around the store where a wine rep was giving tastes of 3-4 champagnes. Everyone got a form to take notes on and the stations featured similar sparkling wines – Champagne from France, Cava, Prosecco, Crémant and others. Here are my tips for how to rock a champagne tasting, even if you don’t really know what you’re doing!
Side note, today is National Drink Wine day so this post is going up to encourage you to enjoy some wine – sparkling, red or white on this very special day.
How to Rock a Champagne Tasting
- Arrive early to avoid some of the crowd. Don’t be in a rush; just enjoy the experience even it if is a bit chaotic.
- Be friendly and chatty with other guests. You never know who you’re going to meet!
- Ask each Wine Rep about their product to learn more. What is the champagne house like? Where in the region is it? What’s the history? What are the vineyards like?
- Don’t worry so much about the vintage. If you see “NV” it means “no vintage”. Many champagne houses will only produce a vintage bottle in superior years so it could indicate a special bottle . Because of this, vintage champagne only makes up about 5% of total champagne production. It is common to have a non-vintage bottle and these bottles can of course be excellent, too!
- Only certain grapes can be used to produce champagne so the Wine Rep will generally tell you which grapes were used: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.
- Enjoy some snacks. Did you know that potato chips pair well with champagne? Champagne loves both fat and salt so chips are the perfect pairing and you’ll find they go together nicely. Even at the fanciest champagne table you may find chips or pretzels to snack on between sips. Here’s an awesome article in Food&Wine about how to pair champagne with potato chips!
- Know your “dosage” (pronounced like corsage). This term indicates sweetness. It is the amount of champagne, spirits or sweet juice added back in after the champagne is corked when it is done fermenting. Dosage is presented in grams per liter; the lower the number, the dryer the wine. For reference:
Brut Nature: no added sugar or <3 g/L residual sugar
Extra-Brut: 0-6 g/L residual sugars
Brut: <12 g/L residual sugars
Extra Sec (extra dry): 12-17 g/L residual sugars
Sec (dry): 17-32 g/L residual sugars
Demi-Sec: 32-50 g/L residual sugars
Doux: >50 g/L residual sugars