As a Champagne novice myself, I quizzed Moët & Chandon ambassador Ethan Boroian, to find out everything you need to know about serving Champagne at your wedding. Here's what I learnt:
There are different types of Champagne
A bottle of bubbles is just a bottle of bubbles right? Wrong! Regular Champagne drinkers will know their demi-sec from their brut, but for the novices out there, here’s a helpful run through of the different types of fizz out there:
Brut Non Vintage: this is the classic dry champagne which usually blends Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It also involves a blend of different harvests to ensure a consistent taste.
Vintage: vintage is a bottle from just one harvest, which has aged a lot longer than a brut and so is a lot richer. A standard vintage dates back to a minimum of 3 years.
Rosé: features a larger portion of red wine blended into the base wine.
Blanc de blancs: made from Chardonnay grapes only.
Blanc de noirs: made from Pinot Noir or Meunier grapes only.
Champagne has a glamorous history
There’s a reason why Champagne is the traditional drink to toast and celebrate with, and it stems all the way back to 19th century France and the region of Champagne.
“The reason Champagne is associated with glamour and celebration is because of the region where it comes from,” says Ethan Boroian. “In the 19th century, all of the kings were coronated in Champagne, and from there people associated the drink of the region as the drink of kings. In 1728 the King changed the law so he could enjoy Champagne, not just in the region, but at his chateau in Versailles. Which set the trend throughout France and even Europe.”
Champagne is not just for the toast
It may be tradition to toast with Champagne at weddings, but it doesn’t have to be limited to just the speeches if you’re a Champagne lover.
“And the reason for that is because it is a blend," explains Ethan. "There are different elements you can play with. You have Chardonnay that brings out the citrus, you have a pinot noir that gives you the body and structure, and Meunier that rounds it out. And so Moët & Chandon Imperial has the perfect balance of all three.”
The food most people commonly associate with Champagne is caviar, and according to Ethan, this match made in heaven comes down to balance of the salt and fat in the caviar and refreshing acidity of Champagne.
“If you think about balance between salty foods and refreshing champagne, fish and chips is a perfect pairing with Champagne. As are most canapés, which makes Champagne the perfect drink to serve at the beginning of your wedding breakfast."
Rosé is great for serving with food
Rosé – and frosé - may be the unofficial beverage of summer, but did you know the commonly Instagrammed drink actually pairs well with red meat?
“There’s a common misconception that rosé is sweeter, but it actually has the exact same sugar content as blanc Champagne when they are both brut,” explains Ethan.
“The difference is, because we add red wine, it’s fruitier. So with the red wine content, Rosé can actually stand up against heavier and stronger dishes. It’s perfect with dishes like duck, pork and even spicy dishes like curries.”
There are typically three different glasses to serve it in
According to Ethan, there will always be a range of suggestions and recommendations, but typically speaking there are three Champagne glasses:
Champagne flute: the traditional glass of choice. The flute is the most closed off glass which means it keeps the bubbles the longest, making it ideal for using at weddings. However, it does not offer the best expression of the wine.
Wine glass: an ideal option when pairing Champagne with food. The wine glass is the best way to get the expression out of the Champagne, and also is best if you want to add ice cubes (more on that later!)
Coupe glass: also known as a Champagne saucer (pictured above), a coupe glass was the original Champagne glass when the drink was, once upon a time, cloudy (like artisanal cider). While the glass is now back in fashion, especially for cocktails, the wide surface area means the bubbles float to the top very quickly.
The bigger the bottle, the better the Champagne
Want to make your big day even more special? Consider going up a bottle size to a Magnum of Champagne, or even a Jeroboam. Not only do these large bottles look incredible, but according to Ethan, the Champagne actually tastes better.
“The best expression of Champagne will always be a Magnum. Not only is it aged a little longer, but it comes down to the ratio of the oxygen and the liquid that’s inside.”
While a standard size bottle of Champagne typically serves six glasses, a Magnum serves 12 full size pours, and a Jeroboam serves 24 glasses of wine. And it keeps going – Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial is available all the way up to a Nebuchadnezzar, which holds 15 litres of Champagne!
While you might not go for the extreme bottle size, opting for a Magnum of Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial for the top table is a really special touch for your special day.
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You can choose the Champagne you serve based on the season
While the classic brut is ideal year round, if you’re having a particularly summery or wintery wedding, you may want to consider opting for a lighter or more complex Champagne to match the day.
For summer, Moët & Chandon has created Ice Impérial to be served on ice.
“It’s very common in the south of France to drink rosé wine with ice in summer, Impérial is the Champagne take on that ritual” says Ethan. “You can’t drink Brut Impérial Champagne with ice because it’s too dry, but Ice Impérial is a demi-sec, so it has more sweetness, and the cold and dilution actually brings out the fullest expression of the wine."
To serve Ice Impérial, Ethan recommends adding three ice cubes to a wine glass.
For winter, Ethan says the Brut Impérial or Grand Vintage is ideal. "Or, if you’re serving game, vintage rosé can work as well."