Champagne Savoir-Faire: 5 Tips by MOËT & CHANDON Winemaker, Amine Ghanem Ahead of Champagne Day
Since 2016, winemaker Amine Ghanem has been part of the Moët & Chandon family working as their Oenologist Wine Quality Manager. From the Maison’s base in Epernay, Amine works closely with Chef de Cave Benoît Gouez and is responsible for communicating Moët & Chandon’s technical wine messages to the markets within France and abroad.
With a degree in Engineering from the School of Agronomy at the Lebanese University in Beirut, a diploma of Oenology and a masters in Wine and Champagne Quality Engineering and Management from the Reims Champagne-Ardenne University in France, Amine knows a thing or two about making the most of a bottle of champagne. From best practice storage to optimum chilling, Amine provides us with some of his top tips and little-known secrets to savouring every glass of Moët & Chandon, just in time for Champagne Day on 28 October.
HOW TO STORE
Not everyone has access to a wine cellar; in its place, I’d recommend storing your bottle of champagne in a cool, dark spot with a constant temperature (ideally between 8 and 18 degrees Celsius). Think of champagne as a living being which evolves over time – storage is part of that evolution. During this time, keep it on its side rather than standing up to ensure that the champagne makes constant contact with the cork. Our non-vintage champagnes can be stored for up to 24 months and our Grand Vintages for 5 to 10 years. Remember that they should only be chilled in the fridge, not stored there.
HOW TO CHILL
When it comes to the best serving temperature, it depends on the type of champagne you are enjoying. Most of our champagnes are best chilled between 7 and 12 degrees Celsius. For example, we recommend serving Moët & Chandon Impérial – our mainstay cuvée for celebrations – at around 8 degrees Celsius. This can be achieved after about 4 hours in the fridge, or 15 to 30 minutes in an ice bucket; remember to use one-third ice and two-thirds water. My top tip if you’re short of time? Add a good pinch of salt to your water and you’ll notice it cools the water faster.
HOW TO OPEN
After chilling your bottle of champagne to its ideal temperature of around 8 degrees Celsius, remove it from your ice bucket and gently wipe it dry. This is to ensure you don’t lose grip of your precious cargo. First, remove the top section of the foil (just the part that covers the cage) and then loosen the cage. Tilt your bottle at an angle and use your thumb to keep the cork in place. Now, turn the base of the bottle – not the cork – about 6 times until the cork eases into your hand. Et voilà.
HOW TO PAIR
Champagne is not limited to caviar and oysters! At Moët & Chandon we like to think of pairing as an expression of emotion and sensation. Moët & Chandon Impérial pairs very well with the taste of the sea; think lightly cooked or raw white fish and raw fruits; I’d recommend trying it with sushi. Moët & Chandon Impérial Rosé pairs really well with simple, intense, colourful flavours, such as raw or lightly grilled red meat and fresh, red-fleshed fruits.
Our demi-sec range is sweeter with a higher dosage. For that reason, I’d recommend trying the Nectar with spicier foods to contrast with its subtle sweetness. For more concise pairing tips, visit our impressive Wine & Food Guide and try the interactive Ingredients Matrix to intricately plan your flavour pairings.
HOW TO HOLD
Even holding your glass can hinder or enhance your drinking experience. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to glass shape, but if you want to get the full benefit of the aroma, I suggest opting for a wider-neck glass. Champagne’s nose and taste change as the temperature changes. Therefore, hold your glass at the stem to reduce the transfer of heat from the hand, which will impact on temperature. Moreover, if you enjoy the glint of rising bubbles, holding your glass at the stem will retain that luminosity.