Champagne 101

When you’re planning a special occasion and visit our beer store in Vancouver, you might want to go upscale and choose Champagne. Whether you’re getting married, celebrating New Year’s Eve, or launching a new business, a toast just isn’t a toast without a little bubbly. Per European law and long tradition, a beverage may only bear the label of Champagne if it’s made from certain grapes grown in the region of Champagne, France, and prepared according to Méthode Traditionelle. The sparkling wines that you see in liquor stores in Vancouver are somewhat similar products but not from the Champagne area.

Champagne Region

Proper Champagne must be produced and bottled within 161 kilometres of Champagne, France. The region occupies a northeastern section of the country and enjoys a mild climate where grape vines thrive in mineral-laden and chalky soil. Viticulture emerged in this region during Roman times as early as 400 C.E.

How Champagne is Made

Only specific grape varieties may be used. Pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay are the most commonly used grapes, but Champagne makers might also employ pinot blanc, pinot gris, petit meslier, or arbane. Grapes must be picked by hand and pressed no more than twice in a covered facility. Juices are usually blended in the ratio of 2/3 red to 1/3 chardonnay. This juice structure delivers a delicate and fruity base.

After collecting and blending juice, producers initiate a two-stage fermentation. The first fermentation produces most of the alcohol and then the liquid is bottled. The second fermentation, called the tirage stage, takes place in the bottles that trap the carbon dioxide gas that forms the iconic bubbles.

Selecting Champagne

If you desire genuine Champagne, then you must choose bottles that clearly designate the French region as the source. The terms “vintage” or “non-vintage” describe whether a Champagne contains grapes from a specific year (vintage) or a blend of juices from different years (non-vintage). In addition to considering the reputations of various grape varieties or vintages, Champagne producers come in different sizes, and a bottle from a small craft producer could offer a unique experience.

At the St. Regis Fine Wines & Spirits, you can shop for Champagne and wine in Vancouver. As a liquor store in Downtown Vancouver, we stock an impressive selection of alcoholic beverages. We welcome your questions when you’re picking out Champagne or liquor in Vancouver.