Champagne is synonymous with celebrations and best enjoyed year-round: at Christmas, the on-set of the silly season; birthdays, toasting a special day, brunch in summer; the sound of a cork popping means good times, all the time.
Even a global pandemic hasn’t been able to shift our taste for bubbles, with online shopping becoming more relevant than ever as consumers look for high-quality products to create meaningful moments at home. So much so, our demand for fizz inflicted a stock shortage, as Australia’s insatiable thirst for pricey French champagne surged low stock supplies across the country.
But even for seasoned wine drinkers, when it comes to serving bubbles the right way or pairing it with food, many fall flat. With the arrival of Spring, what better time to brush-up on some elevated entertaining tips so when we can finally start enjoying it with friends and family, you’ll be equipped with the talent to leave a lasting impression.
We’ve enlisted Jeremy Allan, who heads up the distribution of luxury champagne house Mod Sélection in Australia, to help master the art of serving your favourite French fizz…
DON’T: Store your bubbly in the fridge
While champagne can be stored for several years prior to being consumed, the appropriate care must be taken to preserve it properly. It’s a common misconception that champagne should be stored in a fridge. While fridges can be useful for chilling champagne just prior to serving it, they’re actually not a good storage option long-term. Rather, it’s better to store it upright in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. This will help protect the integrity of the bottle and effectively retain its distinctive characteristics. When stored correctly outside of the fridge, the flavour and colours will develop during this period, taking on unique notes and characteristics over time.
DO: Forget the pop
It may be fun to pop the cork, but it’s best to keep the wire cage on when opening your bottle. Not only does this help you control the cork, but it also gives you leverage to help separate the cork from the bottle. When removing the cork, hold the top of the cage with your thumb to keep the cork in place, and untwist the wire, then hold the cage and cork together in one hand while using the other to twist the bottle’s base in a circular direction away from the cork to slowly work the cork out.
DON’T: Use a Champagne flute
There’s a better way to enjoy your bubbly—and it’s not out of a Champagne flute. Opting for a white wine, tulip-shaped or regular wine glass will allow more depth of flavour and complexity, while also enabling it to breathe and aromas to develop. You should also hold the glass by the stem to avoid your hands warming the Champagne up too quickly, as nobody likes warm bubbles.
DO: Keep your Champagne chilled
The best temperature to serve Champagne is 8-10 degrees celsius, which is around the same temperature as the cellar where the champagne producer would have first stored it. For convenience when outdoor dining, the best and quickest way is to get a bucket and fill it with water, ice, and a healthy dash of table salt.
DO: Know your food pairings
There are few foods that do not pair with Champagne, however the rule of thumb is that anything with salt, butter, oil, or fat will work best. The crisp acidity of Champagne cuts through any fats on the palate, dancing with the flavours, and making you want to come back for more. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, especially when pairing complex styles of Champagne, as they can lend themselves to unexpected pairing discoveries. Think: seafood, truffle fries, cheese and charcuterie, a gourmet burger; more-is-more.
FINALLY: Every bottle tells a story
Every Champagne has its own history and unique style. Collect some information about the Champagne you have chosen to really make the experience one to remember. With a legacy dating back to 1892, Mod Sélection is descended from a long line of growers and vignerons, the House has been producing Champagne in an exclusive area of the Vallée de la Marne for over five generations. The purest expression of balance and terroir produced in Champagne today, Mod Sélection is a modern interpretation of the tradition, heritage and elegance that is Champagne. French floral accents adorn the rich metallic surface of the bottle, which are hand-designed by artisans in Champagne to ensure no two bottles are identical, giving a nod to the rich history.