Champagne is sparkling wine made in the Champagne region in France. It is illegal to call any form sparkling wine which is not made Champagne, France as champagne according to the EU Law. Champagne is made from grapes that are grown in Champagne region and there are a certain set of rules that need to be followed to make champagne. The most important rule is that there should be secondary fermentation of the wine in a specific bottle to create carbonation and there are specific practices that vineyards of champagne adopt for the making of champagne. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meuinier and Chardonnay grapes are used to make most of the champagne. The oldest sparkling wine can be traced back to Blanquette de Limoux which was made in Carcassone in 1531. The right to name a bottle of sparkling wine ‘champagne’ lies in the hands of the Champagne wine-making community under the protection of Comite Interproffesionnel du vin de Champagne. The committee made a set of rules and regulations for all the regions that produce wine to protect its economic interests. It states that there are specific ways to grow the grapes to make champagne and set of requirements for different steps in wine making such as pruning, vineyard yield, the degree of pressing and the duration the wine will be on its lees before bottling it up.
Champagne production is the same as wine production till fermentation. After the primary fermentation, the wine is bottled and then goes through secondary fermentation which is induced by adding a lot of yeast and sugar to the bottle. A minimum of one and a half years is required for the sparkling wine to completely develop its flavor. After the second fermentation and aging the bottle goes through a process called riddling or remuage which involves freezing the neck of the bottle and removing the cap and putting a cork in as soon as possible to save the carbon dioxide in the bottle from escaping. In the late eighteenth century, workers in champagne production had to wear helmets to protect themselves from spontaneous bursts of the wine bottle, as the sudden bursts have resulted in serious injuries.
It is also not customary to pop the champagne bottle’s cork and spray champagne unless the event is a big one like Grand Prix or World Cup, etc. The bottle should be neatly opened by untying the foil around the cork gently and then pulling out the cork gently to give a light ‘thud’ sound. Another misunderstood fact about champagne is that it should be frozen. Champagne should not be frozen and shouldn’t be served with ice. There highly-trained professionals all over the world who are experts in handling wine.