The clean pop of a cork. An effervescent gush of fizz filling a glass flute. Whether it’s a celebration or sophisticated aperitif, Champagne is a consistent crowd-pleaser. The bars and restaurants in Red Carnation Hotels are well-stocked with our house Champagne, Lanson, beloved for its classic Brut. Here, we take a closer look at the world’s most prestigious sparkling wine with a round-up of fascinating Champagne facts.
1. It was invented by a monk
Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk, fought hard to keep out the bubbles that ruined so much of the wine in the monastery cellar. Despite his best efforts, the bubbles continued to form. One day, he decided to sample the doomed fermentation… et voilà, Champagne was born.
2. The inhabitants of Champagne are known as…
The Champenois. Beneath the area’s official 34,000 hectares of vineyards, there are 1.3 billion bottles currently aging in its cellars.
3. Champagne is exceptionally high maintenance
It’s a fact that Champagne is the most labour-intensive wine to produce. It undergoes two fermentations; one in the barrel, and one in the bottle. It’s in the second fermentation that the bubbles form over a minimum of two weeks. The bottle is then gradually twisted and inverted, traditionally by hand, over a month, allowing the sediment to settle at the cap. It’s then aged for at least 15 months before the cap and sediment are removed and the bottle is finally corked.
4. It was considered to be 'dangerous'
In the early days, the bottles were known to spontaneously pop their corks if they contained too much sugar. Helmets worn in Champagne cellars became de rigueur and the drink was dubbed ‘devil’s wine’.
5. It’s fermented from red grapes
There are three grapes traditionally used in Champagne: Two redsPinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; and one white - Chardonnay.
6. Sabrage is surprisingly easy
The trick of uncorking a bottle with the single slice of a sword is in the temperature. When the Champagne is suitably chilled, a clean break is guaranteed, with no glass falling back into the bottle.
7. Before it was Champagne, it was Oeil de Perdrix (Partridge’s Eye)
The Champagne region didn’t always produce sparkling wine. Prior to the ingenious monk mentioned above, the Champenois were hard at work creating a full-bodied white from red grapes. The colour was a rosy blush, similar to that of a partridge’s eye in its death throes.
8. There are 20 million bubbles in a bottle
Gérard Liger-Belair of the University of Reims made Champagne facts the subject of his PhD, and he studies the density of the frothy head of a freshly poured glass. He says pouring at a slant preserves more of the gas bubbles, which in turn, preserves its sophisticated taste.
9. Lanson is HM The Queen’s favourite
One of the oldest holders of the Royal Warrant, Lanson continues to fill the British Royal Family’s Champagne coupes.
10. Call it MCC, call it sparkling wine, but don’t call it Champagne
Fact: it’s not Champagne unless it’s from Champagne. But whether it’s Methode Cap Classique, Traditionelle, or Champenoise, it’s made using the same technique (also the case for much of England’s sparkling wine and Cava, too). What makes each wine special is the skill of the maker, the terroir of the grape and, of course, individual preference.
Interested in the Art of the Sabrage? The Milestone Hotel & Residences offers its very own experience.