Champagne is synonymous with special occasions – and how you serve it is as important as what you serve.
Offering champagne is a ritual – a ceremony that starts long before you begin pouring. With the end of year fast approaching, this is the perfect time to revisit the principles of serving Champagne.
Champagne is typically best served at 8-10 °C (46-50 °F). But why? The classic approach is to use an ice bucket.Low temperatures keep the gas dissolved, and prevent the instantaneous formation of a too-large amount of foam when the bottle is opened. The fine bubbles are allowed to dissipate gently over a longer period.
The low temperature also influences the taste of Champagne wine, making its acidity more enjoyable. But don’t serve it colder than 7-8°C (45-46°F), since you’ll then miss the flavors and aromas qualities.
The situation is different with a millésime. Typically 7-8 years of age, this Champagne has reached some maturity and its acidity has partially faded away. A slightly higher serving temperature (11-13 °C / 52-55 °F) is recommended to better highlight the richness of the aromas and flavors.
How to chill a bottle? The classic approach is to use an ice bucket. Fill the bucket half with ice and half with cold water and let the bottle chill for 40 minutes before serving if it was stored in the cellar (two hours if the bottle was at room temperature). When using this technique, make sure that most of the bottle is immersed in order to avoid temperature gradient in the bottle. A bottle may also be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours (or longer) to reach the right temperature. Storing a bottle in the freezer, even if only for a few minutes is not recommended. In urgent situations, you can rapidly chill a bottle by adding salt to the ice water of your ice bucket.