Champagne wine is a sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France using specific winemaking techniques. Where does its wine taste come from? The flavors and aromas of champagne wine that we feel are influenced by a variety of factors, including our mood, the grape variety, the climate and soil conditions where the grapes were grown, the winemaking techniques used, and the aging process. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the key factors that can affect the flavors and aromas of champagne wine.
The process of tasting wine begins when the molecules present in the wine come into contact with your taste buds
. Your taste buds contain specialized cells called taste receptor cells, which can detect the presence of different chemical compounds in the wine. When the taste receptor cells are activated by the molecules in the wine, they send signals to the brain through sensory nerves. The brain
interprets the flavors, aromas, texture, and mouthfeel of the wine through the interaction of a number of different senses and brain regions.
It means that your mood affects wine tasting, because it also changes the way the brain receives and interprets the signals. If you have a flu you won’t be receiving the best signals from your senses, and if you’re worried, you probably won’t be able to pay too much attention to the aromas of the wine.
Champagne wine is typically made from a blend of grapes, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier
. Each grape variety has its own distinct flavors and aromas, reffered to as primary aromas
, which can contribute to the overall character of the champagne wine. For example, Chardonnay grapes are known for their crisp, citrus notes, while Pinot Noir grapes are known for their red fruit notes. The less famous Meunier is associated with tropical fruit notes and velvety texture. The specific flavors and aromas of the champagne wine will depend on the proportions of each grape variety in the blend.
Climate and Soil Conditions
The climate and soil conditions where the grapes are grown can also affect the flavors and aromas of champagne wine. For example, cooler climates like Champagne tend to produce grapes with higher acidity and more subtle flavors, while warmer climates tend to produce grapes with more intense flavors and aromas. The soil conditions can also influence the flavors and aromas of the grapes, as different soil types can provide different nutrients and minerals to the vines. Generally, Champagne subsoils are chalky, which can lend chalk notes and salinity to the wine.
The winemaking techniques used can also affect the flavors and aromas of champagne wine, called secondary aromas. For example, wines fermented and aged in stainless steel don’t receive additional complexity, while the oak barrels confer lots of different flavors and aromas like toast, vanille and caramel.
The aging process of champagne wine can also contribute to its flavors and aromas. The wine is aged on its lees (dead yeast cells) for a minimum of 15 months, but can be aged for much longer. The longer the wine is aged, the more complex its flavors and aromas can become. The aging process contribute with the so-called tertiary aromas, such as oak, vanilla, and toast, to the wine.
Temperature can also affect the flavors and aromas of champagne wine. Serving temperature can influence the wine’s bouquet (aroma), taste, and mouthfeel. In general, champagne wine is served at a cooler temperature to preserve its freshness and crispness. However, serving a champagne wine that is too cold can cause the flavors and aromas of the wine to become suppressed, making it difficult to fully appreciate the wine’s characteristics. A good rule of thumb is to serve non-vintage champage, the most common type, around 47°F, and vintage champagne around 52°F.
The food you are eating can also influence your perception of the flavors and aromas of champagne wine. Different foods can highlight or alter the flavors and aromas of the wine, which can affect your overall perception of the wine. For example, certain foods may bring out fruity or floral flavors in a champagne wine, while others may emphasize the wine’s tannins or acidity. In general, wine and food should be in not too distant levels of sweetness, acidity and bitterness. Popular pairings are blanc de blancs champagne with oysters
or sea food, rosé with sushi or not too sweet red fruit dessert, and poultry in a creamy sauce with blended vintage champagne. Book a tour in Champagne
to try them!
In conclusion, there are many factors that can affect the flavors and aromas of champagne wine. The grape variety, climate and soil conditions, winemaking techniques, aging process, temperature, and food pairing can all influence your perception of the wine. Even your mood has a saying in that. By understanding these factors, you can better appreciate the unique characteristics of each champagne wine and enhance your overall enjoyment of the wine. Cheers!