Tips & Techniques

How to choose champagne for your wedding

June 22, 2016

 

Before you offer your guests that first celebratory drink, expert wine writer Liz Palmer has a few pointers to put some class in your glass.

ORIGIN
Selecting the right effervescent is a must for your wedding as it is the first bottle to be opened, but not all bubbly is the same! While there are many quality sparkling wines produced around the world, true champagne only comes from Champagne, France.

CHAMPAGNE STYLES
There are a variety of champagne styles available, from full- to light-bodied, vintage to rosé, as well as various levels of sweetness. One fun way of finding out which champagne is right for your wedding is to host a champagne-tasting party as a bridesmaids’ activity. Using half bottles is a great way to cut costs while exploring the diversity of champagne.
Levels of sweetness vary: Brut Natural (bone dry), Extra Brut (very dry), Brut (very dry to dry — most popular), Extra Sec (medium dry), Sec (medium sweet), Demi-Sec (sweet, considered a dessert wine) and Doux (luscious, considered a dessert wine) — keep this in mind when ordering.
Types of champagne include blanc de blancs, which is made entirely from the Chardonnay grape. These champagnes are light, elegant and refreshing.
A richer style is blanc de noir, made entirely from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. This champagne has a dark gold colour with the slightest tinge of pink.
And, finally, rosé champagne. The winemaker adds a small amount of Pinot Noir to base the wine blend.

TIPS
- Brut is considered the classic choice.
- If you plan to use champagne for cocktails, choose extra sec champagne.
- Rosé champagne with its pink hue not only contributes to the romantic twist of the celebration but also stands out as a unique and memorable alternative.
- In serving a glass of champagne with the wedding cake, consider the sweeter demi-sec champagne.
- Suggest to the venue manager that you would like to taste the champagnes before you decide – this is a perfectly reasonable request.

SHOPPING ADVICE
- Bring an accurate, up-to-date guest list (so you know your reception numbers) to assist you when ordering.
- You should plan for two glasses of champagne per guest.
- A bottle of champagne fills six glasses (or eight if the flutes are narrow).
- You don’t have to break the bank to serve champagne at your wedding. This one-of-akind wine is available in a wide range of price points.

SERVING
- Champagne should be well-chilled. This can be done by placing the bottle in a bucket of ice and water for 30 minutes prior to serving.
- Champagne should be poured in front of guests – part of the pleasure is seeing the bubbles froth up in the glass as it is poured, and at the same time capturing the aromas.
- Use tall, tulip or flute glasses that catch and promote bubbles and concentrate its aromas, while improving the experience. Saucer-type glasses should not be used as they cause the bubbles to disappear rapidly and are awkward to hold.

EXPERT PICK
Consider selecting blanc de blancs champagne as a perfect wine for your wedding toasts. The name literally means ‘white of white’ and would be a perfect complement to your bridal gown.
No matter what champagne you choose, it is certain to add an air of festivity to your special day. After all, champagne is the quintessential wine of celebration! Sante!

Liz Palmer is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers (UK) and columnist for both MetroActive and The Global Herald. She writes about fine wines at www.boutiquechampagnehouses.com

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