Champagne would not be champagne without the presence of those magical bubbles. They rise to greet you in lazy, delicate streams of sparkling splendour, tickling your nose with fantastic aromas and making your glass a sight to behold, even before the bubbles explode like fireworks on your tongue. Bubbles are an integral part of the pleasure of champagne appreciation and the rate at which they are released is determined by temperature. Serving champagne anywhere between 4.5ºC to 7ºC is perfect for a slow release of the mousse – but remember that if you serve a champagne too cold, all the aromatics will be suppressed and it will taste practically flavourless. On the other hand, if you were to serve champagne at room temperature, the bottle would be extremely dangerous to open because the wine would immediately explode from its container, froth up and then go flat.
The best method to chill thoroughly a bottle of champagne is to either (a) place it in the fridge for two to four hours before you need it or (b) place the bottle in a champagne bucket half filled with water and ice cubes for approximately 30 minutes before serving. (NB: you need both water and ice in the bucket as the water acts as a conductor for the temperature transfer). Contrary to the classic establishment view, Olivier Krug from Champagne Krug maintains (from personal experience) that the best way to appreciate a bottle of champagne is to place it in the fridge at least 24hrs before you need it.
Although crystal flutes will definitely enhance your appreciation of any champagne, surprisingly, ordinary wine glasses are also good enough to do the job – they capture the vitally important bouquet but they just can’t retain the mousse like a flute. So you need to decide which is more important to you – the aroma or the mousse or both? Whichever glass you choose, please remember that the way you clean your glasses is almost as important as their shape. Always hand-wash your champagne glasses in warm water without detergent – because any washing liquid residue affects both the bubbles and the bouquet. If the interior of the glass is too polished, there will be no infinitesimal particles on the inner surface of the glass for the carbon dioxide to stick to in order to create the bubbles in the first place.
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