As midnight approaches on December 31st, more than a few of us will crack open a bottle of fizzy, bubbly or sparkling to help toast the New Year.
With a few choice facts about the effervescent beverage, Christophe Laurent, our Senior Lecturer Practical Arts & EHL Values Ambassador, furthers our “Gastronomy Culture” so we can look knowledgeable rather than just tipsy when draining our flute this year.
We start our historic journey in 1493, when the term “Champagne Wine” first appeared. Back then, it simply referred to the wine produced on the territory of Châlons in France. It is only later, at the end of the seventeenth century that the tradition of drinking champagne to mark celebrations originated in the royal courts of Europe, where the expensive drink was viewed as a status symbol.
If the "inventor "of the champagne was not French, Pierre Pérignon (1638-1715), the famous cellarer monk of the abbey of Hautvillers, near Epernay, better known under the name of Dom Pérignon, has undoubtedly made it what it is today. In fact, his talent has undoubtedly been to perform the assembly of the best wines available (the chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes grown in the Champagne region) to achieve the highest quality.
Champagne is an appellation strictly reserved for sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of northeastern France. While many people use the term "champagne" for any sparkling wine, the French have maintained their legal right to call their wines champagne since the Treaty of Madrid, signed in 1891, and the Treaty of Versailles reaffirmed it. Today, the European Union helps protect this exclusivity, although certain American producers can still use the term on their labels if they were using it before early 2006.
Whether the chosen bubbles come from Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Switzerland, Catalonia, Piedmont or Australia, the key is to know how to serve the bubbles with consideration for the winemaker, with respect for the client, without arrogance or negligence.
The bottle is sweating coolness, the flute glitters with brilliance, the eyes pupils are blinking with enthusiasm, and the taste buds are fidgeting with impatience.
With the delicacy of the nurse to the newborn, the waiter holds the bottle with one hand and with the other he peels of its collar from that coat of soft metal. The cork, that last bastion before ecstasy emerges delicately of its glass prison. In a rare noise, as discrete as a sigh of a Holy Sister, wine comes to light, bubbles are frothing and now I enter my bubble…
This article was first published on the EHL blog.