Champagne – extraordinary pleasure
No other drink is nearly as luxurious as champagne. Whether you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve or any other special occasion – serving this elegant sparkling wine simply is a must. You may wonder: what is so special about this noble drink?
The ancient Romans were the first to cultivate wine in the French province of Champagne. In ancient times, however, the wine produced there was not nearly as popular as it is today. The name “champagne” derives from the Latin word “campania”, meaning “field” in English. At that time, however, people imagined a field to be unfertile, barren ground. On top of that, the champagne did not sparkle in the past. The second fermentation, which causes the fine sparkle known today, was only introduced in the 17th century. Handling this sparkling wine was particularly risky as the bottles were filled under extreme pressure and often exploded, turning the corks into dangerous ammunition. The Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon was the first to secure the cork at the bottleneck with a string, thus eliminating the imminent danger with his innovative idea.
In 1908, a new law was passed, stipulating that only sparkling wine from a certain part of the Champagne province was allowed to be called “champagne”. In 1927, the precise borders of that particular region were defined. However, it was allowed to add a label with the inscription “méthode champenoise” to wines that were fermented in the bottle until the beginning of the 1990s. Today it is strictly forbidden to use any designation merely hinting at the word “champagne”.
The formerly unpopular province soon proved to be perfect for the cultivation of this noble beverage. Today, the production of champagne is regulated by a strict set of rules. Thus, the grapes for the base wine have to be harvested by hand exclusively and must be cultivated in that particular province. In order to guarantee the unique taste of champagne, only three grape varieties may be used, namely red Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and white Chardonnay grapes. The vineyards in this region have to respect certain production limits as well. Unlike the much cheaper ordinary sparkling wine (called “Sekt” in German), champagne is being shaken manually at the end of the fermentation process and has to be stored for at least 15 months. Also, the vintage, which is crucial for wines, plays only a minor role when it comes to champagne.
Among the world’s most famous champagne brands are “Moët & Chandon“,“Duval-Leroy“,“Veuve Cliquot“ and “Dom Pérignon”, which was named after the abovementioned monk. Interesting fact: several brands of sparkling wine are being produced in the same way as champagne in Germany – however, they are not allowed to bear the famous denomination.
There are various sparkling wines bearing additional titles such as “Crémant“, “Cava“, “Schampanskoje“ or “Spumante“, seeing as every country of origin uses its own denomination. Despite their significant differences in taste, all sparkling wines have to undergo certain production processes – champagne included. The juice of selected grapes is being fermented into wine. Winemakers add sugar and yeast in order to initiate a second fermentation process, causing carbon dioxide gas to develop in the wine. Afterwards, the wine is being stored on yeast lees, allowing the flavor of the yeast to spread in the wine. At the end of the process, the yeast lees are being removed. Before being filled into bottles, winemakers sweeten the wine with the so-called “dosage” - the amount of sugar added to sparkling wines just before corking.
Although there are many excellent alternatives to champagne these days, drinking a glass of genuine champagne remains a unique and delicious experience!
Pop the corks at carathotels
Yet, the most compelling fact about champagne is that everybody can get a taste of this extraordinary bit of luxury at each of our carathotels. We‘ll be happy to treat you to a glass of the finest Moët & Chandon Impérial champagne for only 9.50 EUR. After all, when travelling, one should always travel in style and enjoy something extra special.