How to Taste champagne

Temperature

Standard Temperature (~10C, 50F)

Most champagnes should be served at this temperature. It is appropriate for all tasting occasions, including celebratory.

Cuvée Temperature (~12C, 54F)

“Prestigious, High level” champagnes should be served at this slightly warmer temperature. It allows you to appreciate the bouquet and brings out more nuanced mouth feel as one would want when tasting Premier/Grand Cru white burgundy wine.

Opening Procedure

Standard Cork Opening

Typically done for your daily bottle.

1. Remove the foil wrapper.

2. Untwist and remove or leave the wire cage. Make sure to hold the cork top with your thumb.

3. Pointing the bottle away at about a 45 degree angle, slowly twist the cork (or the bottle or both in opposite directions).

4. The bottle should be opened with a moderate hiss as opposed to the widely commercial ‘pop’. This will maintain more of the carbonation thus retaining more of the bubbles.

Sabering

Typically done as a major celebratory demonstration. Not for the faint of heart!

Glassware and Pouring

There are three standard styles of champagne glassware: coupe, flute, and white burgundy/tulip glass.

Flute

This glass is the most common and widely used glassware. The champagne is less susceptible to spillage. The narrow opening in this type of glass allows a concentration of the nose and the minimal dissipation of the bubbles.

White Burgandy/Tulip

This is the preferred glassware for cuvée tastings at the cuvee temperature. The champagne is moderately susceptible to spillage. The ‘mid-size’ opening allows a good concentration of the nose while making it easier to accept. This type of class allows intermediate dissipation of bubbles.

Coupe

This glass is typically used when toasting during large celebratory occasions. The champagne is more susceptible to spillage. The large opening in this type of glass creates a less concentrated nose and faster dissipation of the bubbles.

Champagne should be slowly poured into a tipped glass and filled between ½ and 2/3 full.

Color 

  • Pale Yellow
  • Light Yellow
  • Yellow
  • Golden Yellow – Vintage or older champagnes tend to be on the golden side of the spectrum
  • Pink
  • Copper

Bubbles/Mousse

Most champagnes are created with 6 bars of pressure. However, certain champagnes are made with 4-5 bars of pressure, which results in a creamier, almost still wine-like presentation.

Quality

  • Fine
  • Moderate
  • Large

Quantity

  • Few
  • Moderate
  • Abundant

Nose

After pouring your champagne dip you nose into the glass and assess the aromas. The nose gives you a window into the character of the champagne.

Palate

Champagnes can have different palate or ‘mouth feels’. The bubbles and acidity often shape the palate feel.

Finish

Finally, after tasting the wine, you are left with a residual taste in your mouth. These flavors comprises the finish.