The ideal drinking temperature for champagne
The slightest change in temperature can affect how you experience the flavor of a champagne, even more than with still wines. So, what is the ideal serving temperature for champagne?
Did you know that even the slightest change in temperature can affect how you experience the flavor of a champagne? Such fluctuations seem to change the flavor of sparkling wine even more than with still wine. In fact, entire tasting menus have been created using this concept, with different dishes being matched to the same champagne at different temperatures. What, then, are the rules regarding temperature when you serve champagne? Does it depend on style?
A brief history of temperature
Champagne has always been served fairly cool, starting when it first appeared in the early 18th century. In the beginning, the fashionable drinking temperature was from 43 to 46ºF, and the bottles were kept in coolers filled with ice water. Wine at this time had a lot of sugar added to it, so to combat this it became fashionable to drink it “frappé-style,” at around a very chilly 37ºF. As the sugar levels started to drop, the temperatures began to rise, and we now drink our champagne closer to the temperatures that the early enthusiasts first used.
The difference a degree makes
t’s generally acknowledged that the more complex the champagne, the more difference you might see as the mercury in the thermometer rises. This is because there is so much to be drawn from the glass in the first place. Dom Pérignon, with its exquisite, elegant champagnes, is one of the champagne houses to have experimented with temperature and food matching, and achieved a staggering effect in the process. The complexity and richness of Krug make it another interesting contender for temperature experiments as well.
There are many different styles of champagne, ranging from rich and biscuity to crisp and clean, and from red-fruited rosés to everything in between. However, whatever the style, know that the cooler you go, the more mineral, sappy and fresh the wine will appear. Cool temperatures also mask sweetness and bitterness. By contrast, flavors become richer and more exuberant as the wine gradually warms up in the glass and becomes more exposed to oxygen.
The sweet spot
Most fridges are set to around 45ºF, but a champagne served straight away at that temperature will not show many of its most subtle aromas and flavors. The ideal tasting temperature for most non-vintage brands such as Moët & Chandon Brut Non Vintage is between 46 and 50ºF. More complex champagnes such as Dom Pérignon or vintage Moët & Chandon, however, are best when served a bit warmer (between 50 and 54ºF), as the extra degrees showcase their extra aroma and flavor nuances. With a particularly rich style of champagne such as Krug, you could start a little cooler and drink it between 48 and 54ºF.
For rosé champagnes, you can use the same guidelines for white champagne and serve it at 46 and 50ºF for non-vintage, or a touch warmer at 50 and 54ºF for vintage versions so that their complex flavor really shines.
An extra point of richness (55–59ºF)
Beyond 54ºF, a champagne will be showing the maximum amount of fruit and body. So if you wanted to try pairing it with a dessert that’s not too sweet, serving it between 55 and 59ºF is your best bet. This is also a matter of taste, so experiment for yourself and find your own sweet spot when it comes to champagne temperatures.