Champagne etiquette is not to be understated.
Champagne etiquette is not to be understated.
Image: 123RF / Maksim Shebeko

Fashion designer and icon Coco Chanel once said, “I only drink champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.” Acclaimed writer F. Scott Fitzgerald was also fairly fond of the bubbles having said that, “too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right.” Who are we to disagree?

On October 19 we celebrate World Champagne Day – a day that is dedicated to the craftsmanship of romantic bubbles of the French. But with great taste, comes great responsibility. Before you bust open your bubbles, take note – Champagne etiquette is not to be understated.

Ginette De Fleuriot of The Vinimark Wine Company and Anouk Westeel of Bollinger share insider tips on the best way to drink Champagne:

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Unlike other wines, Champagne has to be kept standing in a cellar, according to De Fleuriot. Also, there is no point in keeping a bottle of Champagne for years, as once it’s been bottled, it won't get better. Westeel recommends storing your Champagne in a cool and, most important, dark place. Avoid strong temperature variations.

CHILLED, COOL CHAMPERS

According to The Comité Champagne, to fully appreciate the taste of Champagne, the ideal temperature at which it should be served is between 8 – 10 degrees. You can either chill the bottle in a bucket of ice for 30 minutes or let it cool in your fridge for four hours. Do not, whatever you do, serve Champagne in pre-chilled glasses (or even worse, put you Champagne in the freezer) lest you want the Champagne Gods to burst your bubble.

NOT WITH A BANG BUT A WHIMPER

Opening the bottle the proper way will ensure you avoid creating a spray, injuring someone with the cork, or spilling a drop of this precious liquid, declares De Fleuriot. For the best result, hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, grasp the champagne cork gently with the one hand and turn the bottom of the bottle firmly with the other. Be sure to twist the bottom of the bottle slowly, until you feel the cork gently release into your hand.

GRASP THE RIGHT GLASS

You will be disappointed to hear that no, the coupe glass is not in fact molded off the breast of Marie Antoinette as retold by legend nor is it the best glass to enjoy the Vintage Rosé 2006, according to Westeel.

Champagne is best enjoyed in a tulip glass. Any other shape will not allow the bubbles and aroma to fully develop explains The Comité Champagne.

Oh, and hold the glass by the stem – that will prevent the bubbles from burning up from the warmth of your hand.

CHEERS, Y’ALL?

Believe it or not, in Champagne toasting etiquette, the clinking of your glass is optional. De Fleuriot explains that if you’re a guest, you may choose to clink or not, depending on the hosts and other party-goers. And as with most hosting etiquette, if you’re a host the best rule is to be sure the guests are happy.

A ROSÉ BY ANY OTHER NAME

Probably one of the most important of all, stop calling sparkling wine Champagne, it’s not even legal to do so. Champagne is special magical thing only to be called as such when following the highest of French standards and from the Champagne region.

DRINK IT, LOVE IT – ALL DAY, EVERYDAY!

Although often served at the beginning of any fancy do, it is very important to note that Champagne is definitely not to be reserved for special occasions. De Fleuriot insists it can be enjoyed at any time of the day – with or without food.

Coco Chanel and F. Scott Firtzgerald were certainly on to something, and we can’t help but wonder if those bubbles aided their creative success… What we do know, is life without Champagne would be pretty dull.

Here are some of our fave Champers, cheers!

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