Storing, serving and sipping


The main things to bear in mind about storing champagne and sparkling wine are:

Over time light and heat can spoil wine so it’s best stored somewhere dark and cool.

Keep the fizz on its side – this keeps the cork moist and prevents it shrinking. Cork shrinkage can allow air into the wine and spoil it.

Champagne, Cava and Prosecco are sold ready to be consumed immediately. Only keep them for a maximum of one year unless you have a reliable wine merchant who can give you more information about disgorgement dates etc.

Chilling and serving

Serve champagne between 6-8 degrees centigrade – the optimum temperature to appreciate the aromas and flavours. Either store your fizz in a fridge for 3-4 hours before drinking, or place it in an ice bucket- filled with half ice and half water- for about half an hour. You can use the freezer but set an alarm for 30  minutes so you remember to take it out!!

A champagne from A Bergere in an ice bucket

When opening, hold the cork still and gently turn the bottle; hold the bottle away from you and also any innocent by-standers! As you feel the cork coming out, push it back towards the bottle and tilt it to one side so that only a little gas escapes through the small opening between the cork and the bottle. The pressure in the bottle is the same as that of a double decker bus tyre, so take it easy!

a lady opening a bottle of champagne - arm, hand and bottle only , shown in the shot

Tulip shaped glasses or even wine glasses are best to serve champagne in. If you really want to get the optimum aromas from the champagne only fill the glass a maximum of two thirds full, doing this allows those lovely aromas to collect in the top third. Also, try to hold the glass by its stem so that your hand doesn’t warm the contents.

A bottle of Janisson Blanc de Noirs champagne sitting on a silver tray with 2 flutes of champagne on the left

Tasting like a pro!

Take a small sip and try to draw some air over the liquid in your mouth (it’s good to slurp!!). Swirl right round your mouth.

Different parts of the tongue pick up different components taste.

Sweetness is detected at the front of the tongue, acidity and saltiness at the sides and bitterness at the back. A perfectly balanced bottle of fizz should not draw your attention to any one part of the tongue in particular. It should deliver a constant taste and sensation right across your palate.

The fizz should taste clean. Note the bubbles; some types of fizz, such as prosecco, can be quite fizzy and almost prickly on your tongue whereas champagnes aged for a few years will have bubbles that are more gentle on your palate. The bubbles actually agitate the oral membranes- hence making champagne & sparkling wine in general a good aperitif.
Once you have swallowed the champagne there should be a degree of aftertaste. A great champagne is one which leaves a distinctive after taste and lingers on the palate.

Cheers and enjoy!!