Here’s a Toast to Champagne: Wine Not?

US Wealth McCarthy |

Wine is not something I feel qualified to discuss, but fortunately, we have my wife Margaret as our in-house connoisseur to share information we hope will help you as you select your favorite beverage to bring or serve at holiday gatherings.

Here is “Champagne 101” from our resident oenophile, the first in Margaret’s “Wine Not” series for our newsletters in December.

When Tim asked me to write about one of my favorite topics – wine—I immediately jumped at the chance at such a fun and fabulous assignment!  For our newsletters in December, I’m going to be making suggestions for sparkling wines for the holidays.  We’ll start this series with champagne, widely considered to be “wine royalty.”

An interesting fact about champagne was that it was initially marketed to the royalty and nobility back in the 17th century.  Of course, over time, this made it immensely popular with the middle and upper middle classes.  Talk about creating a buzz!

Champagne is all about following the rules.  According to the EU, sparkling wine can only be labeled as champagne if the grapes come from the champagne region of France.  Next, these grapes must be processed according to several very specific rules of the Champagne appellation (region).  The most important part of the process is called secondary fermentation, which creates those wonderful bubbles right in the bottle.  The grapes mainly used are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.  Occasionally other grape varieties are used, but they must be grown in - Champagne!

Two of my favorite champagnes that are more moderately priced around $50 are Gaston Chiquet Tradition Brut Champagne and Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne.

Let’s raise a toast to our first sparkling wine – champagne!  Vive la France!

Next week, we’ll take a quick trip to Spain and Italy to discuss their “sparklies” - Cava and Prosecco.