1. True “Champagne” only comes from Champagne: There are sparkling wines from all over the world, but…they are not Champagne.
2. World History for 40 Please: Champagne is where French Kings were crowned and the scene of many decisive battles. As Churchill said “"Remember, gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne!"
3. Pronounce it “Rhanz” and You’ll Sound Very French: Reims, the Capital of Champagne is not “Reemz” as any anglophones would expect.
4. There Are Over 4,000 Champagne Houses: If you lived in Paris you’d zip up to Champagne on weekends and fill your vintage Citroen full of treasures from small but revered family estates. (In the US 95% of consumption is mass-producers like Moet, Veuve Cliquot, etc)
5. Just Three Grapes: By definition, Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier
6. All Champagnes are not alike: Not only are there different styles, (blanc de blancs, rose, blanc de noir, etc…), the terroir (aka soil plus micro-climate), the artistry of the winemaker, and maturation make each Champagne unique.
7. Party Basics: Assume 96 flutes per bottle, in a Balthazar, that is – otherwise assume 6! Serve at 40-45 degrees. Unexpected guests? You can chill a bottle in 20 minutes in an “ice bath” (½ ice, ½ water).
8. The Sigh of a French Woman. Opening a Bottle 101: Point bottle away from the chandelier or the pretty painting by Monet, remove muselet (the wire you can make a chair out of later), cover cork with tea towel, hold at 45 degrees and slowly turn the bottle (not the cork,). A gentle sigh vs. explosion please…
9. Serving Champagne: Just remember the quote ”one holds a bottle of red wine by the neck, a woman by the waist, and a bottle of Champagne by the derriere”. Filling glasses is done by holding the bottle at the end with your thumb in the punt. Tilt the glass, and pour in very, very slowly…perhaps even stopping once or twice. Fill glasses ¾ full.
10. Sabrage, The Ultimate Party Trick: Sabering a la Napoleon takes practice…and perhaps a plastic surgeon. If you insist on trying, visit “Opening a bottle 301”.