Champagne is an intricate variety of sparkling wine. Because this bubbly is so special, one might want to know how to describe champagne in a way that will give justice to all its qualities.
Believe it or not, drinking champagne is an experience for five of your senses and not just for your mouth and tongue. To properly describe champagne, use five of your senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste.
While it’s true that every champagne drinker is different with varying tastes and preferences, a general guide on describing champagne and its qualities would be good for anyone.
How to Describe Champagne: Use Five of Your Senses
Champagne is the ultimate celebratory beverage. The feeling of hearing that pop of opening a bottle of champagne or hearing the fizz and bubbles as you pour it into your champagne flute is unmatched. You just know it’s more than just fancy grape juice.
Champagne comes from the historical Champagne region of France and is made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, or Chardonnay grapes.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to enjoy a glass or two of champagne and love the festivity it brings to special occasions and celebrations. More often, you’d want to convey your feelings of enjoyment as you take in that first sip of freshly poured champagne.
But like many other topics of food and beverages, it can be hard to describe champagne in a way that gives justice to its complex flavors. Other times, one simply doesn’t want to sound and appear without knowledge of the champagne and sparkling wine world.
If you want to have proper knowledge of how to describe champagne using five of your senses:
Your sense of hearing may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re enjoying a fresh bottle of champagne. But in fact, it’s one of the first things that you notice in a good bottle of champagne.
Like all other sparkling wines, champagne bottles make a popping sound when uncorked and opened. It also makes a low hissing sound as you twist the cork open before making a full popping sound.
As you pour the liquid into the champagne flute and as it settles in the glass, you will hear the faint murmur of sounds the champagne’s effervescence and bubbles make.
This combination of sounds is a treat to the ears even before you take a sip to taste the refreshing champagne.
Next, enjoy the appearance of the freshly opened and poured bubbly.
The bubbles and carbonation of a bottle of champagne play an important role in one’s enjoyment of the beverage.
As you look closely at the glass of fresh champagne, you will see the bubbles moving and dancing in uniform paths. They then will leave and burst at the sides of the glass.
Finer bubbles are more common in higher-quality champagnes. Lesser quality champagnes will often have larger bubbles and will have more variations in terms of size. The bubbles also take on more random paths as opposed to the uniform paths of higher-quality champagne bubbles.
One of the first things you will also notice in a glass of good champagne is the color and shade of the liquid.
Champagne can come in a variety of colors and shades. According to Comité Champagne, there are eight common hues champagne can come in:
- Green yellow
- Lemon yellow
- Golden yellow
- Old gold
- Soft pink
- Salmon pink
- Strawberry pink
- Raspberry pink
When drinking champagne, your sense of touch is one of the first of your senses to awaken.
First of all, champagne should be chilled before serving and should be cool to the touch.
Though the ideal serving temperature would vary per champagne depending on the blend, type, and age of the bottle, the general temperature recommendation for serving champagne is 43° to 48° Fahrenheit (around 8° to 10° Celcius).
When the champagne is chilled to the ideal temperature, its flavors, aroma, and effervescence are further improved for an overall better drinking experience.
It’s also recommended to take the champagne bottle out of the fridge and leave it in an ice bucket to chill for half an hour before serving.
An intricate sparkling wine variety, champagne is sensitive to the touch. This is why it’s important to know how to properly hold a champagne flute carrying the bubbly liquid: hold the flute by the stem and avoid touching the part of the glass that carries the liquid. The warmth from your hands will cause the bubbles to dissipate quickly and will affect its overall taste and experience.
Your sense of touch will also help you determine the mouthfeel of the champagne. Is it rich, creamy, and soft or does it have more of an abrasive and loud mouthfeel?
The aroma, scent, or “nose” of champagne plays a huge role in its overall drinking experience.
The aroma of champagne would vary depending on the blend of the champagne. Some common champagne scents include floral, fruity, citrusy, earthy, mineral, herbal, and nutty knots. Many champagnes also have a brioche and freshly baked bread-like scent to them.
The bursting of the champagne’s fizz and bubbles will further bring the scene towards your nose.
Lastly, the way champagne tastes will directly affect the way you talk about it.
Notice how smooth and quickly the bubbles pop in your mouth. Assess the champagne’s full flavor profile too. Is it sweet and light and airy or is rich, firm, and full-bodied? It is a very sweet champagne variety or more of a neutral and mature taste?
Use your tongue’s tastebuds of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour and what they might need.
The Liqueur de Tirage, the addition of yeast and sugar before the second fermentation process, will also affect the taste of the champagne.
Blanc de noirs and Black de Blancs both taste toasty and bready and resemble freshly baked bread.
One would also have to consider whether it’s vintage champagne or non-vintage champagne. Though vintage champagnes are considered higher quality, there are still a lot of high-quality non-vintage champagnes in the market.
Terms for Describing Champagne and Other Sparkling Wines
If you want to seem more like an expert when drinking champagne (or Prosecco, its Italian sparkling wine counterpart), try throwing in these descriptors:
- Aroma, scent, “nose”
Champagne, along with white wine and red wine, is a mainstay in parties, gatherings, and several occasions. If you want to impress your friends and family, knowing how to describe champagne the right way might just be your way to do that.
It may not look like it to an inexperienced champagne, but drinking champagne is an experience for several of your senses, not just your tongue. You can describe champagne using your five senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste.
Every champagne drinker has different tastes and preferences. But a general guide on what one should look for in a good bottle of champagne is always welcome.