“A little “extra” knowledge on Champagne is a powerful thing!”

Time and Place
The best time for Champagne tasting is in the morning particularly around 11 am. This is when your senses at their best. If you are tasting and comparing several Champagnes, it is best to serve them in the same type of glass and at the same temperature. Avoid tasting Champagne after a meal, and drinking coffee or other substances that will alter your palate. Also, avoid wearing perfume or cologne when you are tasting as they will mask the aromas in the wines.

Stemware: Flute, Coupe or Tulip?
Stemware is a personal preference. Stemware should be spotless, clean and free of any races of detergent or rinsing agent that might flatten the Champagne. The flute works better for young Champagnes served at the proper temperature. If you can, avoid the coupe, it might look sexy and sophisticated, but does nothing for the wine. If you are serving a “tête de cuvee” or super-premium Champagne my suggestion is to use the tulip – they are tall and large enough to allow the aromas to develop while maintaining elegance and depth. The tulip is used by wine makers for their daily tastings.

Decanting Champagne …Why?
Decanting is used to tame the most aggressive fizz, soften the mousse of young, non-vintage Champagne, and in particular, reserved for older mature wines to assist in opening them up to express their full bouquet. Decanting should be done with careful attention to the bubbles. A long decanter shaped like a lyre or “U” shape is used, it aerates the wine to release the aromas while preserving the bubbles. Ideally Champagne should be consumed 30 minutes to an hour after being decanted.

The ideal serving temperature is between 8° and 10° C. Cuvees of high quality and good maturity will be more appreciated at 12° C. The proper way to chill Champagne is to put the bottle in a bucket of ice water for about 20 minutes. Never put the bottle in the freezer as this can destroy the bubbles and aromas.

Fill the glass no more than two-thirds full allowing space for the aromas to circulate. Once the Champagne has been poured, allow some time for the wine to open up revealing its complexities and richness of its bouquet.

Tip: To prevent excessive loss of carbonation before drinking, Champagne should be carefully poured down the side of the flute rather than straight into the glass.

How To Taste Champagne

All five senses are approached when tasting Champagne. For our purposes, we are focusing on visual, smell, and taste.


Start by holding your glass over a white surface to examine its appearance. Define the colours, its depth and intensity. The wine should be limpid, sparkling or silky and absent of any particles. It should be more or less brilliant and transparent but not dull. The Colour Palate ranges from:

pale gold/green gold/grey gold/straw yellow/yellow gold/antique gold

Then examine the bubbles, are they:

do they form a ring?
are they discreet or intense?


Once the initial effervescence has subsided, bring the glass to your nose and inhale slowly, without swirling it around. Then, swirl it lightly two or three times to air it and to release the aromas. Try to identify the family of aromas and isolate the aromas that you recognize. The principal aromas in Champagne:

Floral: rose/lime blossom/orange blossom/ violet
Fruity: citrus/apples/pears/quince/peaches/apricots/nectarines/mango/banana/lychee/coconut/red berries/cherries/currents
Vegetal: Almond/grass/fern/underwood/truffle
Epicurean: Butter/brioche/toast/honey/candied fruit/vanilla/spices
Dried fruit: hazelnut/raisin/dried fig

Gustative Examination/Taste

The mouth indicates the balance of the wine (sugar and acidity) its texture and intensity. Take a sip and take note of the first impression [the attack]. It indicates the balance and the freshness of the wine. Then allow the wine to swirl around your mouth, inhale through your mouth and exhale through the nose to release the aromas and try to identify them.

Overall Impression: Fresh/Creamy/Delicate/Complex

Light/Heavy – Length is ________________

Remember aromas and flavours are subjective and there is no ‘right’ description of a wine – only what your senses tell you.

What was your overall perception of the Champagne? How will it mature? What dishes would you serve with it? A good Champagne deserves to be shares and talked about.


• Add a splash of bubble to your oysters for some added flavors
• A well-balanced and structured Champagne has great capacity to adapt to different food and flavors.
• Champagne has the ability to freshen our palate and never leave us with a dull or heavy mouth.

Liz Palmer

Sotheby’s Offering Exclusive Krug Champagne Tastings in France

Sotheby’s has upped the ante for its December 1, 2012 sale of the largest collection of Krug champagne ever, taking place in New York. In addition to the unprecedented offering of precious bottles sourced directly from the cellars of Maison Krug in Reims, Sotheby’s is now offering two exclusive excursions to the house itself, one of which includes a private tasting of historic Krug vintages. The premier package begins with a limousine ride from Paris to Maison Krug in Reims. A tour of the Maison is followed by a fabulous lunch at L’Assiette Champenoise, the luxurious hotel that features a Michelin 2-star restaurant.

Then comes the true pièce de résistance: a tasting to be conducted with either Eric Lebel, Krug’s Chef de Caves, or family scion Olivier Krug himself, of historic and extremely rare Krug vintages. The tasting will include one vintage each from the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, as well as a “Point To Universe” tasting of the famed Krug Clos du Mesnil 2000, Krug Vintage 2000, and Krug Grande Cuvee, including a suite at L’Assiette Champenoise and a limousine ride back to Paris in the morning. Bidding for the once-in-a-lifetime experience is expected to begin at $5,000.

The other champagne-soaked travel experience includes lunch in the Krug Clos du Mesnil vineyard along with a Krug Clos du Mesnil tasting, and a tour of the Krug Clos du Mesnil and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay vineyards after lunch along with a visit to Maison Krug with the winemaker or Olivier Krug himself. The excursion wraps up with dinner alongside Krug winemakers at L’Assiette Champenoise and a suite for the night. To give you an idea of the scope of the offering, a single case of Krug Clos de Menil is expected to fetch up to $30,000 in the landmark sale. The bidding on the second trip will also begin at $5,000 and only one of each excursion will be offered.

The sale spans 40 years of Krug production, with 530 bottles, magnums and jeroboams coming direct from the cellars of Maison Krug in Reims. Highly prized vintages from 1961, 1973 and 1982 are included among the lots, as well as five Grand Cuvees never previously released by Krug: Finesse, Richesse, Savoir-Faire, Fraicheaur and Memoires.

See Sothebys.com for bidding details.

The Langham Boston Opens Champagne Lounge “The Reserve”

The anticipated opening of Boston’s latest luxury lounge, The Reserve, is here.

Located in the iconic Langham, Boston, in the financial district, the unveiling of the European-style Champagne lounge marks the end of an eight month $6 million renovation to the hotel’s 6,000 square foot lobby.
The Reserve opened its doors Friday, November 2, 2012.

“The Langham, Boston is a timeless hotel with great historical significance to the city,” said Serge Denis, Managing Director of The Langham, Boston. “With the transformation of our lobby, we worked to preserve that history, blending modern and classic elements to create a visually stunning grand entrance that enchants our guests. The opening of The Reserve, an elegant champagne lounge, provides our guests with a third unique dining and entertainment option within the hotel, which will further enhance their experience.”

Spacious and airy, the hotel’s new grand lobby designed by CBT Architects boasts an open, contemporary floor plan with a dramatic new entrance, welcoming concierge center and stylish reception area. In The Reserve, opulent purple and gold custom-made leather banquets and tailored high-back chairs complement a gleaming white Italian marble floor and dark-wood mixed-height dining and conversation tables that seat 60. Housed in Boston’s former Federal Reserve Bank building, which originally opened in 1922, The Langham is a national architectural landmark.

Executive Chef Mark Sapienza’s menu features a continental breakfast and dining from dawn until dusk with nibbles, light entrees and desserts. Libations include a worldly selection of champagne and wine served by the glass or bottle, along with an extensive list of domestic and imported beer.

“The Reserve was designed to provide a relaxed, traditional setting for our guests,” said Sapienza.
“The light cuisine is the perfect pairing to our global champagne and wine selection, which covers numerous cultures throughout the world.” Starting November 2, The Reserve will serve continental breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and beverages until midnight. The lounge will open for dinner later commencing late November.

The Reserve is located at 250 Franklin Street, Boston, Mass. 02110.