Christmas brings out the best in us – generosity, goodwill and forgiveness – and it’s also a time to indulge ourselves a little with the best food and drink, which often means a special bottle of champagne to toast with friends and family. But before you pop the cork too soon, did you know there are important guidelines to follow to make sure it’s as enjoyable as it can be? Luckily, our friends G.H. Mumm know all there is to know about the art of enjoying champagne, and have laid out 100 “protocoles” (that can be found on their website, Facebook or via an iPhone App) for maximum drinking pleasure.
The whole 100 may be a little much to take in all at once, especially after a couple of glasses, so with G.H. Mumm’s help we’re going to take you through the basics of champagne temperature, which everyone can master with a little care. Leaving the bottle in the fridge for an hour next to a defrosting turkey just won’t do, and even seasoned Champagne Charlies might be surprised at what they can learn about hitting the perfect temperature mark.
Firstly, although champagne should be chilled, colder is not always better. Anything below 6°C (fridges are often set at 5°C or less) and the flavour will be deadened, along with your tastebuds. Straight out of the cellar though and the champagne will be too warm – over 14°C and when the bottle eventually opens you’ll be hit with more foam than Sebastian Vettel. Aim for around 8°C for optimal enjoyment, but don’t forget your surroundings when you serve your champagne. Once you’ve got it down to the ideal serving temperature, adjust for the ambient conditions. If you are enjoying a tipple in a toasty, firelit room, chill the champagne a couple of extra degrees more to allow for a quicker rise once it’s in the glass.
Now you’re the epitome of cool, it’s important to stay that way. An ice bucket is a must for keeping the bottle well looked after in between refills, but even getting that right is a skill. Too much ice and the bottle won’t go in, too little and it will melt before you can say “G.H. Mumm Protocoles de Champagne”. Fill your bucket to the three-quarter mark with cold water, and then add ice leaving a 10cm gap to the rim. Sloshing iced water over the tablecloth marks you out as an oick, so take care to get it right. Using this method, a room temperature bottle will be just right in two hours.
Finally, some champagne etiquette to bear in mind. A bucket is for one bottle and one bottle alone. Two is a crowd. For more than one bottle, use a magnum cooler which will do the job much more effectively and confirm to your friends what you knew all along: that you are a stylish so-and-so. Last but not least, even after the bottle is finished, remember your manners. Do not, under any circumstances, put the empty bottle back in the bucket upside down. The shame!