What Is Champagne

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Celebrating with champagne is a practice in many parts of the world. The bubbly is often associated with luxury, success, and romance.

What is Champagne?

Champagne is a popular variety of sparkling wine that is produced with grapes grown in a specific region of France – Champagne. There is a great deal of mystique and prestige associated with champagne, as it must fall under strict guidelines to be granted the name. The types of grapes and the pressing methods are very specific if you wish to classify your product as champagne. In terms of taste, it has a refreshing and bubbly taste but can range from sweet to remarkably dry. Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes are typically used to produce champagne, which requires a second step of fermentation, although other grape varieties can also be used. The color of this alcoholic beverage can range from nearly clear to deep yellow-orange, or even beige. You can visit the Top 5 Types Of Champagne to find out the different varieties available.

When stored properly – before opening – champagne can often last for a very long time. Most will remain good for 3-4 years, while others designed for long-term storage could last for up to a decade. This is unlike wines, many of which can be preserved for decades if stored properly.

An ice bucket with a champagne bottle at the back with wine glasses filled with champagne at the front

Champagne is a French sparkling wine. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits

Not only is champagne a rare treat, but it may offer certain potential health benefits when consumed in moderation. However, not all these health benefits are science-backed. Some of them are based on anecdotal evidence. Let us look at them in detail.

  • The antioxidants present in this drink are linked to boosting memory and lowering your risk of dementia.
  • This beverage may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and preventing the negative effects of free radicals.
  • This drink is lower in calories than many other common alcoholic beverages.
  • It is known to be an uplifting and energizing beverage.
  • Similar to red wine, the antioxidants in champagne can help prevent all types of chronic diseases.
  • For centuries, this drink has been known – and used – to increase sex drive.
  • It also helps in improving skin health.

It is important to understand that moderation in intake is key. Alcoholism and binge drinking is detrimental to overall health and can undo any possible good things that moderate amounts can impart.

How to Make champagne?

Considering that making “real” champagne is highly exclusive and limited to professionals in France, few people make their own. But if you do want it, here’s a simple recipe.

An ice bucket with a champagne bottle at the back with wine glasses filled with champagne at the front

Bubbly Champagne Recipe

Strictly speaking, for a wine to be considered champagne, it must be produced in the Champagne region of France with grapes sourced locally. But if you do want to make your own version, this is the basic recipe. 
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Course: Alcohol
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Champagne
Appliance: Wine Barrel
Maturing time: 456 days 6 hours 1 minute
Author: Paromita Datta

Ingredients

  • grapes Arbanne, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, or Chardonnay
  • 4-5 different wine varieties
  • Yeast
  • 2 tbsp Sugar per litre

Instructions

  • The grapes are collected and then pressed. Only a thin layer of grapes is pressed at a time to limit the exposure to skins and reduces color change.
  • The juice is added to a tank and allowed to ferment completely.
  • This is then blended with other wine vintages, in a process called assemblage. 
  • This product is then mixed with wine, yeast, and sugar and allowed to ferment for 2 weeks to 3 months. 
  • The champagne is allowed to age for an average of 15 months.
  • The excess sediment is frozen and then ejected from the bottle, and the liquid lost is filled in with liqueur d’expedition.
  • The champagne is then corked and stored for consumption.
    Champagne in multiple glasses

Notes

Although this recipe specifies 4-5 wines for blending, many wine houses use as many as 70 base wines for the assemblage. This requires skill and a nose for the right wine since the blend determines the 'character' of the finished champagne. 

Risks & Side Effects

When consuming this beverage, particularly in excess, there are some common side effects, including possible allergic reactions and headaches, as well as skin flushing and redness. Any alcoholic beverage can cause drunkenness and a subsequent hangover, and as turns out, champagne hangovers are notoriously painful and slow to overcome. In the most serious instances, side effects may even include anaphylactic shock.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who should not drink alcohol include women who are pregnant, individuals younger than 21 years of age, and people who are recovering from alcoholism or cannot control the amount they drink. Also, it should be avoided by people who are planning to drive or any other activity that required focus and skill.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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