We talk a lot about beer and bourbon here at The Manual, two beverages of which we’re very passionate. But we don’t often get the opportunity to speak about champagne, which is truly the most festive libation in our eyes. So when we were invited to have dinner with Moët & Chandon Winemaker Elise Losfelt, we jumped at the chance to learn more about the house’s rich history and how their bubbly is made. We met at Seoul Chicken in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood, a restaurant where Asia meets the American South for some of the best spicy fried chicken you’ve tasted. This was the first lesson we learned from Moët and Elise – you don’t have to be eating something super fancy to enjoy champagne, it tastes great with even your favorite comfort foods.
Elise is a sixth-generation winemaker who was exposed to the industry at a very young age at her family vineyard in Grès de Montpellier. Females in the industry were no surprise to Elise, as her family is full of talented women who’ve been winemaking for generations. She has masters degrees in both Engineering and Viticulture & Oenology, and worked as assistant winemaker in vineyards in Australia, France, and Spain before joining the team at Moët & Chandon in 2012. So it’s safe to say she’s an expert on how to serve and enjoy champagne. Check out her five tips below and impress the hell out of everyone at your next party.
1. The best way to enjoy champagne is in a white wine glass. The larger bowl enables the wine to open up in the glass, allowing you to better enjoy all the aromas and to savor the complexity of the champagne. Traditional champagne flutes are perfect for showcasing champagne’s stream of bubbles, but their narrow shape limits the drinker’s experience of aromas and flavors. Coupe glasses, on the other hand, create the opposite experience; the glass’s extra-wide mouth amply exposes the champagne to air, allowing the bubbles and aromas to escape quickly.
2. A common misconception when storing champagne is to leave it in the fridge. If you’re planning to enjoy your bottle of Moët & Chandon immediately (within 3 or 4 days of buying it), storing it in the refrigerator is fine. But if it sits there for weeks, the cork can dry out as there is no humidity in refrigerators. As corks dry out, the seal between the bottle and cork loosen up, and the champagne will oxidize faster, changing its aromas. To store your champagne properly, keep it in a cool place in your home, away from any light and where the temperature is consistent.
3. Champagne should be served around 50° F. Once you’re ready to enjoy it, the best way to chill your bottle is to fill an ice bucket with ice and one-third water and allow the bottle to cool for 15-20 minutes. When pouring champagne, only fill your glass about one-third of the way. If you over-pour, it will warm up too quickly!
4. Enjoy champagne throughout the meal. Many people think they should only enjoy champagne as an aperitif, but that isn’t the only way to drink it. Moët & Chandon Champagne pairs beautifully with foods like fish, meat, grilled vegetables and risotto, and can bring out new flavors you’ve never tasted in these foods.
5. Don’t be afraid to experiment with food pairings. Oysters and caviar are fantastic with champagne, and more casual foods like truffle fries, fried chicken and cheese are equally delicious. Champagne loves oily, salty and fatty foods as they bring out the wine’s fruitiness and freshness, so things like burgers, tacos, rich barbecue sauce and lobster are exciting new pairings to try that champagne connoisseurs have been enjoying for years. Rosé champagne has the structure and body to complement the flavors of meat, allowing you to enjoy both your dish and champagne without one overpowering the other. Beef, veal, lamb, pork and duck are all excellent with either Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial or Grand Vintage 2006 Rosé.