October 23 is International Champagne Day, and with the occasion falling on a Friday in 2020, there’s truly never been a more appropriate time to pop a bottle and cheers to the weekend.
As we prepare to start Friday night drinks a little (read: a lot) early in preparation, we’re looking for a fruity and aromatic Champagne that provides that luxurious fizz against the roof of our mouths on that first, delicious, effervescent, glorious sip.
But of course, not all Champagnes are created equal. And in fact, many of us are so often served “Champagnes” that are not really Champagnes at all. So, to help you do International Champagne Day justice and choose a bottle that’ll satisfy the craving you definitely have after reading this, we’ve put together a little guide on what to look out for.
What is Champagne?
Champagne is an effervescent, sparkling wine produced according to specific practices in the Champagne region of France.
Typically, winemakers will use Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes to produce Champagne, however, some vineyards will use small amounts of other varieties including Pinot Gris and Petit Meslie.
The resounding ‘pop’ sound a champagne bottle makes is synonymous with celebratory occasions, and over the years, Champagne has garnered a reputation for being an occasional drink for those special moments in one’s life.
But Champagne is truly palatable for all occasions, and pairs wonderfully with rich foods like steak and fried chicken, as well as fresh seafood like oysters and caviar.
Champagnes will vary in sweetness and colour, but will typically carry notes of citrus, raw almonds and apple.
5 fun facts about Champagne
- A Champagne bottle has three times the pressure of a car tyre
- A standard Champagne bottle has 49 million bubbles inside it
- A glass of Champagne emits 30 bubbles per second
- James Bond drinks Champagne more than Martinis in his films
- In the 19th century, English men would polish their shoes with Champagne
The best Champagnes to drink on International Champagne Day
When looking for a Champagne, be sure to check the label to ensure it was produced in Champagne, France. As a shortcut, and to take out the guesswork, we’ve listed our favourite bubbles for you below.
We know better than to judge a book by its cover, but honestly, have you ever seen a more beautiful bottle? Luxury boutique French Champagne house Perrier-Jouët has a range of stunning Champagnes, from a sparkling Blason Rose to a Blanc de Blancs using 100% Chardonnay grapes.
Our favourite, though, is the 2012 Belle Epoque. The luxurious cuvée Champagne bottle is adorned with Emile Gallé’s spray of Japanese white anemones, but less than 30 vintages of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque have ever been produced. When you spot one, you simply must grab a bottle to try. Find it at Dan Murphys for $249.
Tsarine launched in Australia for the first time in October of this year, meaning that unless you’ve sampled it while travelling, many of us may never have tried its delicious composition.
Tsarine is the latest offering from the world’s second-oldest Champagne house, Chanoine Frères, founded in Reims in 1730. It’s distinctive, ornate bottle design has its own royal history — the twirled bottle is designed after the buildings of Russia, after the Chanoine brothers travelled to the country to sell bottles to Elisabeth the First, Tsarine of Russia.
Nowadays, the Champagne house is led by Isabelle Tellier, one of the first, and few, female winemakers in Champagne. You can find the Champagne Premium Cuvee Brut for $65 at BWS.
One of the best value-for-money Champagnes available, Piper-Heidsieck is perhaps best known for its appearances in vintage Hollywood films and an endorsement from Queen Marie Antoinette, though the flavour holds up today.
Marilyn Munroe was also a fan, saying in In 1953, “I start every day with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck because it warms me up”. Today, the winemaking venture has seen a sustainable update, despite it being one of the Champagne region’s oldest houses. We’ll drink to that.
Available at Dan Murphys for $43.90.