‘Tis the season to drink bubbly fa-la-la-la-la-la-la! It’s that time of year when the corks are popping and everyone is celebrating. And no doubt, it’s also the time for small talk at Christmas parties, so we’ve gathered 10 facts you might not know about Champagne to break the ice (or seriously impress your boss!).
If you give Champagne a mighty good shake, the cork can reach nearly 25 mph. Warning: do NOT try this in an attempt to prove it, especially at your in-laws’ house or the Christmas office party.
The name for opening a bottle with a ceremonial sword is ‘sabrage’ and was made famous by Napoleon.
Brits are responsible for the way Champagne tastes today. Until the late 19th century, the French fizz was incredibly sweet, practically sickly, until Madame Pommery began exporting to the British and found they liked the ‘drier’ style.
There are, however, still varying degrees of sweetness in Champagne. Extra-Brut means extra dry and normally has zero added sugar. Then there is Brut which is still ‘dry’; right up to Demi-Sec (half sweet) and Doux (seriously sweet and can have 50g of sugar per bottle added after fermentation).
The name of Veuve Clicquot originated as a result of the founder, Philippe Clicquot-Murion, passing away and the company being taken over by his wife. ‘Veuve’ means widow in French, so it’s literally ‘Widow Clicquot’.
Most English speakers pronounce Moët & Chandon incorrectly. Whilst us Brit’s have a penchant for sounding posh and say “Moh-ay”, it’s actually “Moh-ET” with emphasis on the ET.
Nearly all Champagne is made from a blend of three different grape Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier. Chardonnay is the only one of these grapes that is white – therefore if a Champagne is made of only Chardonnay it can be labelled as a ‘Blanc de Blanc’ (a white of white).
Many people believe that the coupé glass was styled on Marie Antoinette’s breast but this is actually a myth. One serious truth about coupé glasses, however, is that they are terrible for Champagne! They release the bubbles very quickly and make it go flat faster; even if they do look fancy.
Although Champagne is a designated appellation in France (meaning a protected wine production region). Only wine from there can be considered Champagne but many other countries produce premium sparkling wine. In Germany it is called Sekt, in Italy it’s Prosecco and in Spain it’s Cava. Cava is the only other sparkling wine that MUST be made in the traditional method of Champagne.
The largest bottle for Champagne is called a ‘Melchizedek’ (as with all bottle sizes it is based on biblical terms). The Melchizedek is the equivalent of 40 standard bottles of Champagne – so you better have enough guests to drink it!